Community Association or Homeowner Association?
What is the Difference?

People commonly use the terms community association and homeowner association, also referred to as an HOA, interchangeably. They actually have different meanings. As you will see, all HOAs are community associations, but not all community associations are homeowner associations. A community association may be a condominium association, a planned development, a stock cooperative, or a community apartment project, all of which will have a homeowner association.

A community association may also be a neighborhood association made up of volunteers who are advocates for their neighborhood, or it may be a neighborhood watch group.

On the other hand, a homeowner association is a private association formed by the developer of a condominium project, a planned development, a housing cooperative, or a community apartment project. Homeowner associations are not voluntary and require the payment of assessments and compliance with governing documents such as bylaws and CC&Rs.

The Davis-Stirling Act, which is the primary body of law in California that deals with condominiums, planned developments, cooperatives, and community apartment projects, does not provide a definition for the terms community association or homeowner association.

It defines the term association as a non-profit corporation or unincorporated association created for the purpose of managing a common interest development. By definition, this includes condominiums, planned developments, stock cooperatives, and community apartment projects.

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