A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is an organization within a community of single family homes, villas, or condos. The HOA responsibilities to homeowners include making and enforcing the rules for the community. In most cases, membership in the Homeowner’s Association is mandatory, but there are some smaller associations that offer optional memberships. Typically, these optional membership associations have less restrictions than those with a mandatory membership.
HOA associations will elect a board of directors to oversee the community’s governing documents. These homeowner covenants, simply put, are the rules in which the homeowner’s must follow. Each association differs in its community restrictive covenants, but examples of guidelines might include fence restrictions, maximum pet size and number of pets, breed restrictions, landscape requirements, rental restrictions, and parking restrictions.
If you are purchasing a home, it is a very good idea to review the HOA documents prior to submitting an offer, especially if you own a dog, a truck, a motorcycle, or you plan to rent the property. If you are already under contract, you have a specified number of days per the contract to review and cancel. Once you close on the home, the HOA can enforce its policies. There have been unfortunate stories in which buyers have moved into a home, later to find out their dog exceeded the maximum weight or breed requirements, and were told they had to remove the dog.
Membership in an association is in the form of a fee. The association fees cover the cost to maintain items such as common areas, community pools, tennis courts, recreation buildings or elevators. The fees are collected on either a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. If unexpected repairs occur, and the association does not have the reserves to pay for them, the HOA can impose a special assessment to cover the cost.
If you fall behind on your fees, even if it is as little as two months of fees, the homeowner associations may have the right to impose a lien on the property. Furthermore, they may have the right to foreclose on the property, even if you are current on your home’s mortgage.
Homeowner associations will enforce the community standards for maintaining a homes appearance. In many communities, there are architectural committees that monitor the condition of the home’s exterior, roofs, driveways, landscaping, and mailboxes. If they are not to the HOA standards, a warning is issued. If not addressed, eventually a fine will be imposed.
Every community has restrictive covenants that are specific to the neighborhood. No two communities are the same, but in general, here are some of the more common rules and regulations.
No parking on the lawn.
No overnight street parking.
No motorhomes or commercial trucks.
Garbage cans to be put at the curb and removed on trash day.
No basketball hoops.
Approval of paint colors.
HOA Associations maintain the attractiveness and market values of properties through their enforcement of no deferred maintenance. If you are seeking a community in which cars cannot be parked on the grass, where every lawn is maintained, or for a community that offers amenities such as a community pool, club house, tennis, or golf, then a community controlled by a homeowner’s association will suit you.
Fees will vary depending on the amenities and what the association covers, but theses additional fees may deter potential buyers. HOA’s could also be too restrictive to homeowners who want to rent out their home, park a car with signage in their driveway, have multiple pets, or the freedom to make changes to their home without a required approval.
There are many communities in the Sarasota area that have homeowner’s associations. If you are considering a community with a homeowner’s association, request a copy of the rules and regulations. If you come across an item you can’t live with, then you may want to approach the association for special approval. For example, if the association allows one cat but you have two, they may allow the two cats, but once one passes away, they will not allow you to bring a second cat into the home.
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For a list of homes for sale with no HOA, feel free to contact me at any time. I am always happy to assist with your real estate needs.