There are many reasons why you might be excited to purchase a home. For some people, a home signifies a large financial investment, while others look at it as an indication of being financially stable. However, a lot of people are excited about home ownership because of the freedom that it offers. Unfortunately, homeowners association disputes can put a serious damper on any excitement over things like painting or building a fence.
HOAs are common across some parts of Florida. An HOA regulates a number of things that homeowners in the area can or cannot do with their property. Where disputes often arise is when the HOA and homeowners disagree over these regulations.
What are HOAs allowed to regulate?
HOAs generally help maintain both functionality and uniformity in a neighborhood by regulating both shared amenities and private property. For example, an HOA might require all neighbors to use the same type or color of mailbox. Other common regulations relate to the following:
- Siding, exterior paint colors and shingles
- Shrubs, hedges and fences
- Basketball hoops
- Noise levels
While HOAs sometimes have blanket bans on certain things, there is often nuance to these regulations. A regulation on pets might allow small dogs and cats and only restrict large dogs or certain breeds. Perhaps structures for children like swing sets and basketball hoops might be permitted in the backyard but not the front.
Understanding fees and charges
If you live in an area regulated by an HOA, you most likely pay fees to do so. These fees vary depending on where you live and may consist only of a small monthly fee that goes toward maintaining any common areas. Other fees can be quite costly and run into hundreds of dollars per month.
It is not just fees you have to make sure you pay on time though. An HOA may assess the exterior of your home for certain renovations or repairs and levy fines if you do not complete them in a timely manner. If you fail to pay your fees, fines or other charges, you could ultimately be looking at foreclosure.
What about disputes?
It is important to familiarize yourself with the covenants, codes and restrictions of your HOA. If your HOA accuses you of violating the regulations, you will be able to quickly recognize whether the claim is legitimate. If it is not, you will need to be prepared to defend yourself.
HOA disputes tend to be exceptionally emotional because they can threaten your ability to continue living in your home. On top of that, you may even be living near — or right next to — those who are accusing you of violating the regulations. Taking the time to learn more about such regulations is often a good first step for homeowners just like you who are at odds with their HOAs.