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What rights does your homeowners association have?

If you’ve found your dream home, you might be all too willing to sign the papers – including the homeowners association contract – so you can move into your new home. HOAs are common in Miami, as well as the rest of the country. Millions of homeowners live in neighborhoods managed by associations. What could go wrong?

According to Bankrate, one-fifth of all homeowners in the United States must abide by the rules of a homeowners association. An estimated 20 percent of them have had problems with their HOA management. Like many, you may appreciate the help that an association can provide, including holding your neighbors to certain standards so their properties do not become eyesores or nuisances. On the other hand, you might find your HOA’s regulations to be excessive and controlling.

Some of the most common rules upheld by HOAs include the following:

  • Requiring permission of association boards before repainting, landscaping or remodeling
  • Limiting or prohibiting the display of flags, decorations, clotheslines and wind chimes
  • Dictating how many cars you may have on your property and where you can park them
  • Regulating whether you may hold a garage sale or walk pets in your neighborhood

You may face heavy fines if you violate any of the terms of your HOA contract, even if your infraction was a mistake. Many homeowners have lost their homes as a result of being fined or missing a payment to their homeowners association, and then having a lien placed on their property to repay the debt.

As your community grows older, additional complications may arise in the form of maintenance and repair. If certain factors fall under the responsibility of your HOA, such as repairing roofs or maintaining roads, it would be the HOA’s duty to take care of these issues. However, many HOAs are not sufficiently prepared for these eventualities, and may resort to raising homeowners association fees exponentially to fund their maintenance accounts.

Your homeowners association may do a good job of keeping annoying neighbors under control. However, it can just as easily become a nuisance to you financially and legally. The information in this post is meant to help you understand HOAs’ rights, but is not meant to serve as legal advice.

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