The main purpose of an HOA is to help to keep everyone’s property values as high as possible. The HOA maintains the common property of the community. At a minimum, this refers to entrance landscaping and signage. However, it can also include amenities such as: parks, playgrounds, athletic facilities, club house, community pool, etc. It can also include retention ponds, roads, gates, walking trails, etc.
To keep property values high, HOA’s usually have a minimum standard of upkeep for each vacant lot or developed lot in the neighborhood. There are usually minimum construction standards such as: square footage of each building, required minimum landscaping standards, and getting prior approval from the architectural review committee prior to construction or changes to the exterior of any building or landscaping or lot. These guidelines are all spelled out in the covenants of the HOA.
The owner's association is funded by requiring an annual assessment be paid by each member of the HOA. Membership in the hoa is almost always mandatory. If assessments are not paid, the hoa has the right to put a lien on the property and ultimately foreclose for lack of payment. The HOA also has the right to fine members of the hoa for non-compliance with the covenants.
Unless you are willing to follow the rules of the homeowner's association, you should consider buying property that is not regulated by an HOA.
You should definitely read all the governing documents of the condo or homeowner's associatn before you decide to purchase. Once you purchase, you are bound by the regulations.
Here are some common examples of covenant restrictions that we see in homeowner's associations:
- You might not be able to store a boat or an RV on your property
- You may not be able to erect a basketball goal on your property
- You may not be able to install an above ground pool or even the type of fence that you would want
- You may not be allowed to run a business out your home
By reading the governing documents, you should know the answers to most of your questions. If you still have questions, we recommend you contact the board of directors of the homeowner's association or the HOA mananger.
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Sales Office 4400 Bayou Blvd. #52B, Pensacola, FL 32503 (850) 453-9220 www.RealtyMastersofFlorida.com
Are you considering purchasing a home in a home or condo association? Before renting or buying a home in a covenant enhanced community, you should be fully aware of the homeowner's association and the rules governing the community.
Florida laws allow certain time periods to rescind from contracts when purchasing a condo in a condominium association but does not have the same resicion period for single family homes in a neighborhood. Prior to entering into a contract for a residential property, you should be aware of and have reviewed the HOA documents relevant to the community.
The most relevant HOA documents you should receive and review include:
- Covenants and Restrictions
- Rules and Regulations
- Community By-laws
- Annual Meeting Minutes
- Financial Information
But how do you find these documents?
There is unfortunately not a great public database to collect these documents, and you must be aware that these documents can be voted on and changed. Because we manage several neighborhoods, we get this call a lot so we have some tips for you.
- Legally, it is the responsbility of the property owner to provide a prospective buyer with the homeowner's association documents and other pertinent information. The best place to get these documents is from the property.
There are several ways you can look up rules for a covenant enhanced community!
- Many HOA management companies have these documents and some of them are available online. You can find these by searching google and including HOA with the subdivision name.
Our company manages 30 local home and condo associations in the Pensacola area. Each of our communities has a website with the relevant documents you need uploaded to the website. You can find a list of local Homeowner and Condo Associations Realty Masters managers here: http://pensacolarealtymasters.com/homeowners-association-condo-associations-realty-masters-of-fl
- Realtors are another great resource! We have access to the Pensacola Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) which stores pertinent documents related to transactions. An experienced realtor can identify properties that have sold recently in the same HOA or condominium community and locate a copy of the covenants and/or the association manager.
Don't know which community a property is located in? Or if there is an active HOA? One of the best ways to find out is to visit the Escambia or Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser, search the property address, and find the subdivision name in the legal description.
- Once you have the name of the subdivision, visit the Florida Division of Corporations Website to search the subdivision name. Here, you will find a list of active corporations across the entire state. You can identify the corportation easily by viewing the addresses associated with the "Registered Agent" and/or "Officers." Keep in mind, there may be several similarly named communities across the state of Florida, however, only likely one in the Pensacola area. Additionally, you will most likely find the words Condo Association, Owners Association, or Homeowners Association in the corporation name.
While the documents are not stored on this website, it does typically show the community association manager and/or the board of directors for the community. Often you can google these contacts to find a phone number, email, or website, or at minimum their address so inquiries can be made.
As many associations have a company that handles their affairs, a company name is likely to appear for easy contact.
If you find a community name, but see it is inactive, it's likely that the association was dissolved, but it's best to verify with the title company. You should never sign a contract to move into a HOA neighborhood without reading the rules that govern the community.
Let us know if you have any questions!
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