Thinking of Buying a Home in a Homeowners Association?

So, you think that you want to purchase your new home in a gated community or homeowners association? Well, before you sign that contract and decide to put down that deposit, maybe you should research what you are really buying into prior to moving into that nice community.

A homeowner’s association is more than a nice place to live, it is also a complex legal structure with many regulations and restrictions. A homeowner’s association is governed by state statute, by the Association’s recorded Declaration, by the association’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

In Florida, a homeowner’s association (HOA) is governed by Florida Statutes section 720, but each state has their own particular regulating law. This is the first level of regulation in a HOA. The second level would be the Association’s Declaration, which is even more restricting in nature. Most Declarations will outline what improvements can be made on your property, the need for approval from a committee of homeowners prior to making any landscaping or structural changes, or even restrictions as to where you can park your vehicle, to whom you can rent or what type of dog you may have within the community.

Whenever you are entering into contract for a purchase of property within this type of development it is important that you receive a copy of the recorded Declaration and any/all amendments. These documents MUST be delivered to you by the seller or seller’s agent, within your inspection period under the contract. This is required so you may review what restrictions you will be bound to abide by once you and your family have moved into your new home. It is important that you take time to read all the restrictions, in particular any sections dealing with the homeowner’s responsibilities to the Association. All items contained in the Declaration are deed restrictions on your property and you are bound to them simply by taking title to the property and becoming a homeowner in the community. Ignorance of these restrictions is no defense to your failure in abiding by them at a later time.

Living in a homeowner’s association seems like a dream come true to some homeowners, but to others that can quickly turn into a nightmare. If you’re not careful, you may come to realize too late, that the ugly tree in the front yard, which you desire to replace for a tropical landscaping, cannot be removed; or that your dog cannot live within the community because it is not an approved breed. So before making any decisions, do your research and find out what restrictions regulate you as a homeowner.