Habits — whether good, bad or indifferent—are patterns of behavior or ways of talking that we pick up as we go through life and do almost unconsciously. When talking about Homeowner Association assessments, many people use “dues” and “fees” interchangeably. It’s a widespread habit that you see almost anytime you do an Internet search, read an article or real estate ad and even association newsletters.
While there is some crossover in the definitions of “dues” and “fees”, the differences in the two words can change the way homeowners perceive the meanings. Which word conveys a more serious commitment?
We voluntarily pay dues to industry associations and other organizations, but there are no legal consequences if we decide not to renew a membership. Property in a community has assessments, also referred to as fees that are outlined in the deed. Unpaid fees can lead to a lien or sale of the owner’s home.
Many states require that escrow papers contain specific language regarding fees in large print. Still, many owners later say that they don’t recall seeing this information. We need to use consistent wording within the community association world so that there’s less opportunity for a misunderstanding. The word “Fees” conveys that it is a fixed charge with ongoing payment obligations.
If we develop the habit of using the word “Fees” when we are talking to others or writing association news, others in the community will begin to use “Fees” when they discuss assessments. Reach out and educate others on the difference in the words. Explain why “Fees” is preferred when discussing HOA assessments.
When we all speak the same language, we convey a more consistent message. That is especially important for potential and new owner in a homeowner’s or condominium association. You have fewer conflicts and delinquencies when owners know upfront that “Fees” are on ongoing financial responsibility.
Develop a new habit. The next time you’re talking to someone, remember that HOA assessments are fees. Don’t “Due” it.
Wise Property Solutions serves condominium and homeowners associations by addressing their financial, association and facilities management needs. The only certified and licensed community association management firm serving the Mountain South (Virginia, North & South Carolina, Tennessee) with offices in the Tri-Cities and Knoxville. Wise Property Solutions provides condo and homeowners association management services in Johnson City, TN; Bristol, TN; Kingsport, TN; Knoxville, TN and the surrounding region.