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Rising HOA fees, rules can be an extra burden on older adults in Arizona

Many older adults live in communities with monthly or quarterly homeowners association fees. These HOA dues are typically used for the maintenance of a community — things like landscaping or upkeep of the pool. But  seniors on fixed incomes could run into trouble if they can’t pay their mandatory dues. 

We’ve all heard of HOAs. Some people love them, others not so much. But for older adults, it’s important to budget for those monthly HOA fees.

"If you owe the HOA, you know, HOA fees, they can come back and get you and then if you sell your home and you owe, they're going to make sure that they get their money first," said Dana Marie Kennedy, the state director for AARP Arizona.

"So, it's just really important that when you're budgeting, that you do understand the HOA fees. When you buy into a community and you have HOA fees, those fees can go up."

She also says it's important to read through the covenants, conditions and restrictions, or CC&Rs, which vary by community. HOAs can fine residents for violating the CC&Rs or charge late fees for missed assessments. 

HOAs can block backyard casitas

Something else HOA community members should keep in mind is whether they can build a casita in their backyard. Earlier this month, the city of Phoenix approved accessory dwelling units (ADUs).But Kennedy says to check with the HOA board. 

"HOAs may weigh in on that and not allow you to build an ADU on your own property. And so that's another way that HOAs have some control over your livelihood in your house and your housing values," she said.

And that could impact older adults looking to earn another stream of income or caregivers looking to build additional square footage for loved ones. 

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Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.