What is a Neighborhood Association?

A neighborhood association (NA) is a group of residents who advocate for and help organize activities within a neighborhood and work together on behalf of issues, concerns, and opportunities that affect the community. An association may have elected leaders and dues (the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association has both) and membership is usually inclusive of everyone within the boundaries of the Association: home owners, renters, and businesses.

The term neighborhood association is sometimes incorrectly used instead of homeowners association (HOA). But neighborhood associations are not homeowners associations (HOA). An HOA, our HOAs, is a group of property owners with the legal authority to enforce rules and regulations that focus on restrictions and building and safety issues. On the other hand, a neighborhood association is a group of neighbors and business owners who work together for changes and improvements such as neighborhood safety, beautification and social activities. They reinforce rules and regulations through education, peer pressure and by looking out for each other. Some key differences include:

  • HOA membership is mandatory generally through rules tied to the ownership of property like deed restrictions. Neighborhood association membership is voluntary.
  • HOAs often own and maintain common property, such as recreational facilities, parks, and roads, whereas neighborhood associations are focused on general advocacy and community events.

The rules for formation of a neighborhood association in the United States are sometimes regulated at the city or state level.  Indeed, the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association is filed with and recognized by the City of Austin.

In some cases, neighborhood associations exist simultaneously with HOAs, and each may not encompass identical boundaries. In one example, newer infill neighborhoods built decades after the original, surrounding HOA-less neighborhood may have its own HOA but also be within the boundaries of a NA.