All About HOAs: What You Should Know, Your Rights, And The Election Process 

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Are you in the market for a new home? According to multiple real estate studies, the housing market here in Florida is going to continue to increase throughout 2019. Before getting caught up in your plans, it is important to remember one crucial detail of homeownership: the Homeowner’s Association. One data analysis found that almost 50% of all homes in Florida are in an HOA. 

If you are new to homeownership, or looking for your next place to live, make sure that you understand your new neighborhood’s HOA. HOAs can be a big deal and can vary significantly between developments so it is important to know what to look for when making your decision.  

If you want to know everything about HOAs, including your rights as an owner and what the election process entails, read on!  

How does an HOA work? 

We will start with the basics. In a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association, homeowners own their homes and the lot their home rests on, while the association owns common areas like a clubhouse, pool and landscape that is not owned by the individual.  

What can I expect to pay in HOA fees and assessments? 

This can vary greatly, depending on how the association is run. Some associations prefer a cash reserve, so fees may be a little greater to cover any maintenance or other obligations that may come up. 

Fees can also vary greatly depending on the amenities that are available to you, the homeowner. Fees may be higher for gated communities, those communities with a clubhouse and a pool, and neighborhoods that rest on a golf course. A community without additional amenities will simply cover the common area and fees are expected to be lower. Fees may be due monthly or quarterly. 

Another item to keep in mind is special assessments that may be due. Especially when an association does not keep a very large reserve, any major repairs that must be made can tip them over their surplus. When this happens residents may be responsible for a special assessment to cover the cost, in addition to regular HOA dues.   

When searching for your next home, check out the listing for HOA information. Dues may vary by lot size and square footage of the home. 

Are there rules I must follow as a resident? 

Yes! All HOAs have their own set of rules called covenants, conditions and restrictions, or CC&Rs. Typically, rules surround the color you can paint your home, the types of vehicles you may park on your property or on the street, the height of fences around your home, the number and type of pets you can own and more. The rules exist to promote uniformity and maintain the look and feel of the neighborhood for all residents. 

Before purchasing a home, you may request to view the CC&Rs of a community to make sure it is the best fit for you and your family. Be sure to pay attention to what consequences you can expect should you violate a rule or fail to pay dues.  

If a previous owner has not maintained their property to comply with HOA rules, your status as the new homeowner will require that you bring the home up to standard in a timely manner. 

What rights do I have as a member of a Homeowners’ Association? 

Here are just some of the rights you can expect as a homeowner: 

1.        Attend HOA meetings. At these meetings rules are discussed, updates to the community laws are made and everyone can have a voice. You also have the right to vote for elected board members and approve major costs for a project.

2.       View an HOA’s special assessment history. This will give you an idea of what has been paid for in the past. Other HOA documents you have the right to view include their reserve figures and other financial resources.

3.       Exclusive use of your home. An HOA cannot govern how you choose to decorate the interior of your home or how you mortgage your home.

4.       Implement renewable energy sources. Florida Statute 163.04 forbids an HOA from prohibiting the installation of solar energy devices. 

How does the HOA election process work? 

It is simple! Residents of the community elect the individuals who will be on the board of directors of the HOA. These individuals are homeowners in the neighborhood and these positions are volunteer-based. The board is responsible for establishing and enforcing CC&Rs, the assessment and collection of HOA dues, and deciding how and where to spend any reserve money. 

HOAs have different election processes, but all of them must comply with bylaws and state or federal legislation. An election manager or election committee ensures that the election is being run according to these bylaws. All residents receive identical ballot papers that are completed with their voting preference.

Now that you are more familiar with HOAs, enjoy the home buying process and your new home! 

Ask a Florida Real Estate Attorney for Assistance! 

Contact Us!

As a buyer of a new home, you may have a lot of questions. Even if a realtor is involved in your process, get the help from an experienced real estate attorney, like the ones at Kira Doyle Law, to check contracts and other legal documents prior to closing. Call our St. Petersburg office at 727-537-6818 to schedule an appointment today!

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