By Mary Klein
Purchasing a home that is part of a homeowners association can involve issues that most homeowners would never think of providing pros and cons. The small print in the rules and regulations that are part of signing up for an association when you purchase a home can be lost in the sea of paperwork.
Homeowner associations are usually looking out for the interests of all homeowners, but there are things many organizations won’t tell you. The following 7 items are things associations don’t always divulge.
1- Associations may sue any homeowner for a violation of the standards set by the association. For instance, if you do anything to your yard or house like changing the paint color to one that is not allowed by association rules or plant too many roses you might just wind up in court.
2- Membership in the HOA community is mandatory and so are the dues payable in monthly or quarterly installments. If you don’t pay, the association can fine or sue you for payment, and in worst case scenarios foreclose on your home.
3- Considering the large number of lawsuits brought against homeowner associations, you could encounter difficulty selling your home because the odds are that at some point you will be in the middle of legal action pertaining to the association. Not many potential buyers would purchase a home involved in a lawsuit and most banks won’t finance those that are.
4- Association fees may increase sharply if something unforeseen happens to the neighborhood or if funds set aside for repairs weren’t enough to cover costs. For instance, many condo associations in Florida have seen fees double and even triple since the back to back active hurricane seasons of 2005-2006.
5- Homeowners associations are notorious for developing new regulations to follow. While it is illegal to do so without a majority of the homeowners board approving them, members often take a few steps around the laws. They do this by changing the minor details of some rules to reflect new updated changes they wish to adopt. These rules are just as binding and do not require a majority vote.
6- Boards are made up of other owners and depending upon the make up of the board, some would rather that owner’s not even show up at meetings so they can implement changes without controversy, which cuts down on the time spent to ratify decisions.
7- As an owner if you have a dispute with a neighbor over a barking dog you can take the matter to the association for intervention, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the board will take any action to resolve the matter.