By purchasing into a community association, be it a condominium unit, townhome, or single family home, the owner agrees to abide by the community’s pre-established guidelines. The owner will often live close to his or her neighbors, share common facilities, and voluntarily sacrifice certain freedoms, all for the cause of protecting communal property values and reducing nuisances. Reasonable restrictions, consistently enforced over time, will preserve the net value of the community and maintain a high quality of life for residents.

What is a Community Association?

A community association provides a communal basis for preserving, maintain- ing, and enhancing homes and property. All community associations have three basic, defining characteristics:

I Membership in the community association is mandatory and automatic for all owners. This is unlike other associations whose membership is voluntary.

I Certain documents bind all owners to be governed by the community association. These documents require mutual obligations to be performed by the individual owner and the community.

I Mandatory lien-based economic charges or assessments are levied on each owner in order to operate and maintain the community association.

“….[the community association] gives continuity to the community, it preserves the architectural integrity and it maintains the common properties. Properly run, it promotes the community concept and protects the community’s property values.” —THE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION MANUAL, BY PETER M. DUNBAR, ESQ., AND MARC DUNBAR


People choose to live in community associations for numerous reasons. Many association owners value the inherent benefits offered by community associa- tion living. Community associations are designed to:

  • Manage common areas of the property
  • Manage property interests of owners
  • Provide services for owners
  • Develop a sense of community through social activities and/or amenities


Depending upon the specific organization or U.S. state, community associations are referred to differently. Following are common terms typically used to describe community associations:

  • Community association: This term is used by Community Associations Institute and by the Bureau of Condominiums of Florida.
  • Common-interest community (CIC): This term is used by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
  • Common interest realty association (CIRA): This term is used by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
  • Common interest development (CID): This term is used by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

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