Roughly 66 million Americans live in common interest communities such as Homeowners’ Associations, Condominium Associations, retirement communities, vacation timeshares, and gated subdivisions. When a common interest community, such as a gated subdivision, is built, the develop is in control of all aspects of the management of the neighborhood until 90% of the houses are closed. Then the control and management is handed over to the Association, which is the official membership of residents and elected officials whose reason for being is to enact and enforce provisions that protect the homeowners’ investments.
This protection occurs in the form of maintaining standards which are specified in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, or CC&Rs. They cover measures to protect both the quality of life and property values. These might include reducing vehicular traffic through maintaining gates, addressing water infrastructure management, and putting all kinds of restrictions on everything you can imagine, from what colors a house can be painted and where a pool can be built to where cars can and cannot be parked and what kind of holiday decorations can be put out and for how long.
Since 1964, homeowners associations have become increasingly common in part because they give residents a degree of control over their investment that homeowners in non-Association communities do not have.
But along with the benefits of enhanced control over their environment and their property values can come problems, such as time-consuming bureaucracy, legal imbroglios, unexpected expenditures, and unmet expectations. Sometimes these problems can be benign – you can’t fly the flag you want to over your front door, you can’t jungle gym in your front yard – other times serious – your home is auctioned off because of unpaid Association dues, an Association-related lawsuit drags on for years and costs members a fortune.
Although most association-related problems cannot be avoided, here’s a few strategies on how to prevent them:
Understand that once you’re in, you can’t get out of it. Buying a residence in a community controlled by a homeowners association is a voluntary commitment. Once you purchase property within an association you are bound by the rules and covenants that govern the HOA.
Thoroughly Examine the CC&Rs. The CC&Rs state explicitly what, as a homeowner, you will and will not be allowed to do so that there won’t be any confusion once you’ve moved in, nor will those that come after you.
Pay Your Dues: If a homeowner does not pay their Association dues, the Association can enact all kinds of collection measures. These can range from filing a suit against the homeowner, and, in some cases, even foreclosing on the home to collect on them. Dues can (and often do) increase as well, so don’t expect that the dues you pay when you first buy will be the same five years hence.
You can also be fined for violations, usually at something around $100 a day per violation, up to $1,000. Understand this beforehand and make sure to follow your community association’s rules.
The Fort Lauderdale homeowners association attorneys at Stevens & Goldwyn, PA offer legal services for community associations throughout South Florida including West Palm Beach, Miami, and more. The lawyers at Stevens & Goldwyn PA specialize in real estate litigation, civil litigation, commercial litigation, mortgage foreclosures, and more.
Arrange a free, no-obligation consultation, where you can discuss your legal concerns with a partner of our firm. We look forward to answering your questions and seeing how we can meet your legal needs. Call us at 954-476-2680 or contact us online today.
Through a free, no-obligation consultation, you can discuss your legal concerns with a partner of our firm. We look forward to answering your questions and seeing how we can meet your legal needs.
Call 954-476-2680 or contact us online today.