Own this adorable Highland duplex—without the hassle and expense of an HOA.
If you like the idea of urban living but abhor restrictive homeowners’ associations (HOAs), Denver’s Highlands neighborhood may be your ticket. Sixty-one percent of Highland proper was built before 1940, when covenanted communities weren’t even a blip on the social radar. The area offers a wide variety of HOA-free housing, including single-family homes, bungalows, and even those adorable Denver duplexes (see the photo for one on sale now).
Before we dive in, let us say that there are plenty of great reasons to live in an HOA community. A well-run HOA can enforce community standards that protect the value of your home and may offer a wide variety of services and amenities. What’s more, the examples below may not apply in every situation. For more information, always refer to the HOA’s bylaws and covenants.
That being said, HOA-free living has certain advantages, including:
1. Bye-bye, Big Brother. Your home really is your castle. No one will be spying on you to see how many rose bushes you’re planting of whether your dog’s feet touch the lobby floor. (Wonder what we’re talking about? Click here for these and other instructive HOA horror stories.)
2. Rent in a pinch. Has your income taken a hit? Have you been diagnosed with a serious illness? Does your work require a cross-country move? Well, that’s a bummer, but at least you don’t need your HOA’s approval to rent out your house. Better yet, they won’t get a chance to hold up the process by screening your tenants.
3. Make room at the inn. When you’re HOA-free, you can share your home with anyone you want (subject to local laws). No one will stop you from taking in loved ones (or even random strangers) in need. In other words, you’ll never be forced to choose between your home and your homeless six-year-old granddaughter (as happened to this Florida couple).
4. Predict your ownership costs. As if rising property taxes weren’t enough of a stressor, HOA fees can be raised without warning—or even a proportionate increase in services. But hey, you don’t have to worry about that.
5. No arbitrary fines. In HOA-free communities, you won’t get slapped with a fine for adding a solar array or (god forbid a wheelchair ramp) without prior approval. You won’t have to go to court to defend yourself from said fines. And you won’t be slapped with the association’s legal bills when you lose.
6. One less entity to foreclose on you. HOA members serve many masters, but you just need to please your mortgage lender. No association will foreclose on you for failure to pay your dues—even if you own your home free and clear, as happened to this Texas widow.