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Tips for handling a homeowners' association

Imagine saving up for years to make a down payment on your first home in Florida. You find the perfect house in a neighborhood in a good school district. The only drawback is the homeowners' association, but how bad could it be? You will have to make payments to the association for the upkeep of the neighborhood and maybe attend the occasional homeowners' meeting. It seems like a small price to pay to be able to live in a nice, well-kept area.

Unfortunately, there are some common problems that many people experience when there is a homeowners' association involved. Some people have found themselves embroiled in bitter disputes with their homeowners' associations. By knowing about some of the common issues that many homeowners experience, you can be better equipped to handle disputes with your homeowners' association.

There is no opt out

When you purchase a home in a community that is governed by a homeowners' association, you cannot opt out of following the rules of the association or paying the required dues. Furthermore, by purchasing such a home, you are legally bound by the terms and conditions set forth by the homeowners' association.

Know the covenants, conditions and restrictions

The covenants, conditions and restrictions are the rules you will have to follow while you own a home in a community governed by a homeowners' association. The rules could limit the size of the dog you are allowed to own, place specifications on what kind of fence you can put up around your property and even dictate what color you can paint your house. The purpose of these rules is to protect the property values of the community and the quality of life of its members.

Take a look at the financials

Before you commit to buying a house in an area controlled by a homeowners' association, ask to examine the association's books. You should be able to clearly see the money coming in, the money going out and how much the association is holding in reserves. This will give you an idea if the homeowners' association is being managed appropriately and whether it is retaining enough money in the reserve account to take care of repairs and maintenance in the common areas of the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, even if you are well versed in your obligations as a homeowner and the association's obligations to the community, you could still find yourself in a dispute with the homeowners' association. If this happens, it is important to know what your legal options are.

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