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What's the Difference Between Homeowners Associations (HOA), Residents Associations (RA) and Community Associations (CA)?

( Published Tuesday, November 20, 2018)

winter in a Vancouver neighborhood

We work with Homeowners Associations (HOA), Residents Associations (RA), Community Associations (CA) and many other types of groups who use our association management software. Sometimes the differences between these groups are minor and it's not always clear what those differences are. We hope to provide a little clarity on the subject.

Community Associations


A Community Association is a non-profit volunteer organization sanctioned by a municipality and dependent upon voluntary membership and fundraising to operate.

A Community Association is essential as the ‘political voice’ of a community. In addition to organizing minor sports leagues and running City/Municipal sponsored community programs, the Community Association is involved in communicating with City/Municipal Officials, lobbying for schools, approving development permits, approving community signage issues, road and traffic issues, traffic calming, pedestrian crosswalks, issues involving city officials, etc.

Residents Associations & Homeowners Associations


An RA/HOA is a non-profit company that manages assets owned by the Association for the benefit of residents. Residents benefit by having, in their community, certain amenities and assets which, because of their unique nature, could not otherwise be provided, as the City/Municipality would not normally accept responsibility for their maintenance.

RAs/HOAs look after the operations and maintenance of the facilities and amenities that the developer includes in the community. These amenities can include features such as a recreation building and park, feature parks and entry features, a lake, etc.

The exclusive features and amenities of the community are maintained and managed for the long-term use and enjoyment of the residents of the community. In addition, RAs/HOAs may also provide, through a contract with the City/Municipality, enhanced maintenance of city/municipality-owned boulevards and medians. In most cases, the City/Municipality, under this contract, agrees to contribute funds towards the maintenance of the boulevards and medians based on what they would budget for its normal maintenance.

By virtue of being a resident in a community with an RA/HOA, the homeowner is automatically a member of the Association. An encumbrance, registered on title, in favour of the RA/HOA ensures that the annual payments are made in accordance with their Articles of Association, which also sustain the maintenance and upkeep of the features and amenities. This membership is mandatory and applies to each property owner in an RA/HOA. Community Associations, on the other hand, are also non-profit volunteer organizations sanctioned by a municipality, however, they are dependent on voluntary membership and fundraising to operate.

Short Summary of Terms:

Community Associations: non-profit volunteer organizations sanctioned by a municipality and dependent upon voluntary membership and fundraising to operate.

Residents Associations & Homeowners Associations: non-profit organizations that manages assets owned by the association for the benefit of the owners/residents.

Property Managers: for-profit firm or individual hired to oversee and manage residential, commercial, and/or industrial real estate.

Whether you are a property manager, an HOA administrator, or hold a similar role in your association, you need efficient systems and processes to communicate to your members, collect fees, schedule events, and more. Learn more about what Association Management Software can do for your organization.

Read our new resource: The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Association Management  Software