What Is An HOA Special Assessment? Are Homeowners Required To Pay It?

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An HOA special assessment is an additional financial obligation homeowners in an HOA community have. Beyond mortgage payments and regular HOA fees, homeowners also need to pay special assessments occasionally. Understanding what these assessments entail before buying a home in an HOA community is important.

What Is an HOA Special Assessment?

An HOA special assessment is an additional fee that a homeowners association levies on top of regular HOA dues. It is usually imposed when the HOA faces unexpected or significant expenses that exceed the funds available in the association’s operating account and reserves. These assessments are typically one-time payments but can also be spread out over a period of time.

HOA Dues vs HOA Special Assessment

HOA dues, also known as HOA fees, are recurring fees that homeowners must pay to cover the community’s operating expenses. These typically include maintenance and management costs of common areas and amenities. 

In contrast, HOA special assessments are charged for specific yet often unforeseen expenses. These include expenses such as major repairs, legal fees, or capital improvements.

What Are HOA Special Assessments For?

An HOA may need to collect a special assessment to fund various projects or pay for urgent community needs. Sometimes, an HOA board anticipates the budget incorrectly or faces unexpected increases in expenses. This is where a special assessment comes in.

Though the purpose of a special assessment can vary from one community to another, some examples of what it covers include the following:

  • Repairs to infrastructure (such as roads, parking lots, and utilities)
  • Renovations to common areas (such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and clubhouses)
  • Construction of new amenities
  • Legal expenses (such as lawsuits and disputes)
  • Emergency repairs not covered by insurance (such as storm damage)

While the HOA board may sometimes fall short on budgeting, homeowners may also require special assessments. It is not uncommon for homeowners to default on their regular fees. When too many homeowners stop paying HOA dues, the association has a budget deficit, forcing the board to levy a special assessment to make up the difference.

Is There an HOA Special Assessment Limit?

There is typically no pre-determined limit on the amount an HOA can levy as a special assessment. However, the HOA governing documents, such as the association’s bylaws or CC&Rs, may outline procedures for imposing assessments and any limitations on their amount.

State laws may also regulate how much HOAs can impose special assessments. In Texas, no such limit exists within the state statutes. However, if an HOA board wishes to levy special assessments, consideration or voting must take place at an open board meeting.

How Often Should an HOA Levy a Special Assessment?

The frequency of HOA special assessments can vary depending on the association’s financial health and the community’s specific needs. Ideally, HOAs should strive to maintain adequate reserve funds to cover unexpected expenses and minimize the need for special assessments. However, certain circumstances, such as natural disasters or deferred maintenance, may force an HOA to levy special assessments more often.

If an association regularly levies special assessments, it is a sign of the HOA’s poor financial condition. It means that the HOA board is doing something wrong. This could stem from a lack of proper planning or research, poor fund management, or inefficient collection of HOA dues.

Potential buyers should investigate an association’s financial health. This means examining the HOA’s financial statements, including how often it levies special assessments. If special assessments occur frequently, buyers should take this as a warning.

Understanding HOA Special Assessment Rules

Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the rules and procedures governing HOA special assessments, which should be included in the governing documents. 

These documents also typically detail the following: 

Notice Requirements

State laws and governing documents may require an HOA to notify owners of an impending special assessment. The requirement may also involve how an HOA communicates this notice to homeowners.

Calculation and Cap

State laws and the governing documents may also determine how an HOA board calculates special assessments. In addition to this, there may be a limitation on how much an HOA can levy in special assessments.


To prevent an HOA from levying special assessments all the time, state laws and governing documents may restrict the types of expenses that a special assessment can cover.

Payment and Dispute Resolution

The governing documents may also outline any payment or dispute resolution options available for special assessments.


Homeowners may also be able to voice their opinions on proposed assessments during HOA meetings before they are collected.

What Happens When You Don’t Pay HOA Special Assessments?

Homeowners who fail to pay their special assessments can face several potential consequences. These include the following:

  • Late Fees. An HOA may charge a late fee when homeowners fail to pay the special assessment on time. This late fee can accumulate over time.
  • Suspension of Privileges. Depending on state laws and the governing documents, an HOA may temporarily suspend a member’s privileges if they don’t pay the special assessment.
  • Lawsuits. Similar to HOA dues, an association may be able to sue an owner for nonpayment of special assessments.
  • Liens. State laws permitting, an HOA may attach a lien to an owner’s home if they don’t pay their special assessments. The owner must first satisfy the lien before they can sell their home.
  • Foreclosure. In some cases, an HOA may be able to foreclose on an owner’s home due to unpaid special assessments. State laws and the association’s governing documents should contain more information regarding foreclosures.

The Bottom Line

An HOA special assessment plays a vital role in ensuring the financial stability of a homeowners association. While they may be an additional financial burden for homeowners, there is no denying that they can sometimes be necessary to maintain an HOA’s operations.

Navigating HOA special assessments can be difficult. Let 88 Doors help your community. Contact us online or call us at (512) 348-8821 to ask for a quotation today!