What Authority Does a Property Owners Association Have?

August 28, 2023

A property owners association (POA) is an organization made up of various types of property owners who have joined together for the common good of all of their members. 

What Are the Goals of a POA?

The structure of a property owners association may be formal or informal, and both may decide to hold association elections to decide their leadership. The goals of a POA are to represent the interests of the association members through various means.


Let’s say you have a group of property owners in a community that has formed a POA. Due to years of neglect, the sidewalks and streets are in desperate need of repair. If the association can successfully appeal to the government to make the repairs, the economic activity in the area may improve, thereby raising property values and benefiting everyone. 

Taking Legal Action

Using the above example, suppose that the government refuses to repair the roads. In this case, the property owners association may decide to file a lawsuit against the government for negligence. Once the association has its day in court, the law will decide who is in the right. If the POA wins, its members and the community stand to benefit greatly. 

Who Pays the Bills?

Membership in a POA may require annual dues, though membership itself is typically voluntary. In some states, POAs may have enough legal power to mandate that anyone who buys a property in a certain area has to join the association, though this is rare. 

Other ways an association funds its activities may include donations, fundraisers, and events to raise awareness of the group and encourage more membership. 

Do POAs Have Any Real Power?

There are many types of associations that advocate for their members. In this way, property owners associations are like civic organizations. However, only an organization that has formed itself under a legal framework, such as a corporation, can actually enforce its rules related to elections, policy, and bylaws. Without a legal framework and contracts, disputes are difficult to prove in court. 

Furthermore, if a POA is not incorporated, it will have a hard time meeting the legal standard of recognition that allows it to file a lawsuit against the government or other entities the POA wishes to fight in court. Without this legal standing, individual members would each have to file suit against the government or hope they meet the high bar of qualifying for a class action lawsuit. The far easier solution is to incorporate and file suit as a whole. 

Does a POA Have Power Over Its Members?

Typically, a POA has little power over its members, though in certain instances, a POA may be able to exclude a member or refuse to renew their membership. In some states, POAs can create a legal structure that allows them to fine members that don’t follow the party line. This is increasingly rare, however, as courts in many jurisdictions have chosen to side with individual property owners over POAs. 

Moving Forward

Overall, POAs benefit their members and the community, promoting the safety and economic growth of local areas. They often create jobs, raise property values, and improve living standards of the entire community. 

If you’re starting a POA and need an easy-to-use and secure online election system, ElectionBuddy is a great place to go for election planning and execution. Check out our services today and see what ElectionBuddy can do for your organization and community!

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