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A homeowner association is a legally recognized, nonprofit entity with automatic, mandatory membership for its homeowners. Members are required to comply with their HOA rules and standards, which are established through deeds, covenants and other legal documents that are put in place when a home is purchased.
In order to preserve architectural and aesthetic elements specific to a neighborhood, HOAs may define requirements for design elements such as paint color, landscaping, window style or fence height, as well as regulate issues such whether a resident can park an RV in the driveway or build a shed.
An HOA normally is created by either a residential real estate developer or a group of property owners. Pennsylvania does not require the formation of HOAs, but the state legally recognizes them and has established rules and responsibilities for them to adhere to.
Most HOAs are governed by a set of bylaws that outlines the structure of the organization. Elected board members may manage the HOA as volunteers, or they may hire a management company to perform the necessary duties.
HOAs usually assess monthly or annual dues to pay for operational costs and maintenance of shared property such as such playgrounds, gardens, swimming pools, clubhouses or stormwater detention basins.
Active homeowner associations are set up to enforce their own covenants. They tend to have the power to take swift action when finding a violation. HOAs can place liens on a member’s property, sue a homeowner or levy fines in situations where sometimes the township cannot.
South Fayette Township, the local government, is unable to enforce the private HOA regulations. However, the township does have the right to enforce its own laws and regulations within neighborhoods that have an HOA. The township enforces local ordinances and the International Property Maintenance Code of 2000 by issuing citations, fines or other penalties for code violations.
If you have a question or problem within your planned community, please check with your HOA first. If the HOA says it cannot enforce an issue, you may submit your concern online to determine if the township can help.
South Fayette Township maintains only public roads.
In a new housing plan, the developer or HOA privately owns the roads in the neighborhood throughout construction. Once the roads are completed and built to public standards, the developer may offer a road for public dedication.
Following a legal adoption process, the township usually assumes ownership (although sometimes, for various reasons, the developer or the HOA keeps some or all roads private).
Once South Fayette secures ownership of a road, the township can acquire maintenance funds from the state’s Municipal Liquid Fuels Program.
In some cases, several years can pass before a road is offered for public dedication, such as when a new neighborhood is in the process of being built.
During this period, the developer or HOA bears all the expenses of salting, plowing, repairing, paving or otherwise maintaining its roads. The township is legally prohibited from using public tax money to maintain private roads unless specifically contracted and paid to do so.
Most planned neighborhoods include their own stormwater basins to control water that “runs off” the development. Basins are designed to collect rainwater and snowmelt and redirect it into natural waterways to reduce flooding and erosion.
The vast majority of stormwater basins in the township are owned by HOAs, with a handful owned by other private entities or the township. HOAs are responsible for maintaining and repairing their own stormwater facilities.
An important task of HOAs is to provide the township with the results of periodic inspections of their basins and related stormwater management system—including HOA-owned storm pipes—in line with the original engineering design and by following the recommendations of a storm system design professional.
In addition to HOAs providing their own inspections, the township is required by the state to inspect all stormwater facilities from time to time for compliance with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program, managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under the federal Clean Water Act.
The program—which includes all HOA-owned detention basins—requires each community’s stormwater management system to return clean water to streams, creeks and rivers. Polluted water could lead to fines and penalties.
Under the MS4 program, South Fayette Township has implemented a process to regularly inspect detention basins throughout the community. Inspection reports, along with required maintenance information, are sent to basin owners and kept on file at the township building. HOAs must repair any problems discovered during inspections.
Neighborhood gatherings such as block parties are great ways for neighbors to meet and connect, and the township encourages these events when properly planned and organized.
It is the HOA’s responsibility to block the road with sawhorses, cones or other items that are readily movable in case of an emergency. Roads cannot be blocked by vehicles or big equipment.
To temporarily close a road for pedestrians during a neighborhood block party, an HOA representative must contact public safety personnel at least two weeks in advance:
To park on the street overnight in areas where parking hours are regulated, residents must request permission from the police department in advance by calling the business office at 412-221-2170. Otherwise, vehicles at the curb may be cited or removed if necessary.
When possible, please avoid parking on the street during winter plowing in order to allow safe, efficient snow removal.