If you are looking to buy a home in Florida, then you may very well find yourself considering a house or condo in an association. These associations are communities that have specific rules and guidelines with which homeowners must comply. There may also be amenities available to members of the association.
If you are considering purchasing a home in an association, then you should understand what this could mean for you as a homeowner.
- You may not be able to change the appearance of your house. Most HOAs restrict the aesthetic changes people can make to their home. They do this to preserve property values and the look of the community.
- You can't do whatever you want in your home. HOAs may have rules regarding what you can and cannot do with your home. Often, these rules are in place to keep people safe and allow everyone in the community to enjoy their home, but they can be very restrictive. For example, you may not be able to operate a home business, rent out your home or even have pets.
- You will have fees. HOAs typically require fees that go toward expenses like community improvements and shared amenities. If you do not pay the fees, you can face serious penalties, including a lien against the parcel.
- You may not like every decision the HOA makes. The board of directors of an association makes decisions that can affect every homeowner, but you may not like every decision it makes. Understand that you have the right to attend board meetings and speak on an issue, if you wish. Specific direction on contesting a rule or decision by the board should appear in the association's bylaws.
Entering these arrangements fully aware of your rights and obligations will be crucial in avoiding disputes and knowing what to do if one should arise.
Before any real estate transaction involving an HOA, it can be wise to consult an attorney who can review the paperwork and make sure there are no red flags that could jeopardize the sale or your rights as a homeowner.