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Important things to know about community associations

| Oct 18, 2019 | Real Estate Transactions & Litigation |

Many who move down here to Florida experience many things for the first time. While it may not be at the top of the list, having a community or homeowner association as part of a new home in a planned community may an adjustment. Twenty percent of properties in the U.S. have these organizations attached to them, but that number skews much higher here in Florida. These organizations are designed to spare the owner of a single-family home, condominium or townhouse of certain obligations while also ensuring specific standards that members believe maintain quality of life and property values.

Some owners, however, may bristle under the rules and regulations that come with these associations. There is also the not so small matter in some cases of fees that help pay for common areas’ upkeep, structures, and exteriors. Memberships bind owners to certain covenants, conditions and restrictions – which means the owner may not be able to paint their front door red or park their RV in the driveway or yard.

Other issues to consider

These details will vary widely, which is why it is essential to look at them and find one the buyer is comfortable with before agreeing to purchase a property:

  • Fees: Look at the size of fees, potential for special assessments and how much the fees can go up from year to year.
  • Services vary too: Gated communities will often need to pay for gatehouse and staffing, while maintenance of amenities like pools, tennis courts and clubhouses are also are a part of services.
  • Fees and mortgages: Lenders will want to look at the community association dues as part of determining how much they will lend.
  • Covenants can be specific: Even buyers who have been in a community association before should look at the covenants to make sure that there no areas that will be a problem for them.
  • Conflict management: Homeowners who bend or break the rules will likely find that they will be fined. A community association can foreclose a property for the non-payment of dues. It is wise to ask how rules violations and conflicts are resolved.
  • Insurance responsibility: Homeowners are often responsible for carrying an insurance policy while the community association will have a policy for common property.

There are trade offs

Many who live in a property having a community association will not miss mowing the lawn or paying for their house to be painted, but there are tradeoffs. Those with questions about potential disputes or the rules should speak with an experienced real estate attorney who works here in Florida. These legal professionals can provide guidance based on years of handling real estate matters, including properties located within community associations.