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Is Living in a Community Association Right For You?

What should you consider before moving into a Community Association

You’ve decided you want to simplify your life and move into a condo on the beach but you’ve never lived in a home where you were part of an association and you are not sure it is for you?  Here are some simple guidelines to help you determine if association living makes sense.

First let’s define what community homeowner Is Living in a Community Association For You?associations, commonly referred to as Association, are about.  When you buy a condominium, townhouse or other type of property in a gated community or sub-division, you are required to join the association and pay monthly or annual fees for the upkeep of common areas and the building.  This includes maintaining the common areas of the building such as landscaping, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, parking garages, fitness rooms, sidewalks, security gates, roofing and the building exterior. Many of these types of common areas, such as pools and tennis courts, also exist in subdivisions of single family homes.

The goal of the association fees are to maintain the quality of life for the community’s residents and protect property values for all owners.

This is typically the part of Associations that most people support and then there are the rules.  In addition to maintaining common areas, Associations also set out certain rules that all residents must follow called covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). In a typical building, rules may include what color front door you may have, whether you are allowed to line dry your laundry outside, whether you can have a satellite dish, the size and type of pets permitted, and so on. In many ways, these rules are similar to the types of rules apartment dwellers must follow.  In a subdivision with individual homes, regulations may include what color you can paint your home, the exterior landscaping you can do, the types of vehicles you can park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example), permissible type and height of fences, and restrictions on window coverings for windows facing the street.

If you want to do anything that differs from these rules, you will have to convince the Association to grant you a variance, which is probably unlikely. No matter where you live, you are likely to be subject to city ordinances and restrictions related to the use of your property. Associations add yet another layer of restrictions and because their members are more likely to know what you’re up to, the Association is more likely to enforce the rules. So, let’s take a look at some of the rules and regulations you need to know about before you decide to join one of these communities.

9 Key Things You Need To Know About Living in a Community Association:

While there are laws governing the behavior of Associations, they can still have a powerful impact on your rights as a homeowner. Before buying a property in a community that has an Association you should:

1.  Review the Association’s rules thoroughly

Make sure you get a copy of the rules before you consider purchasing a property.  The Association’s CC&Rs should be available online or you can ask your real estate agent for them.  Get familiar with what the rules are and what happens if you violate a rule.  If you feel they are too restrictive, look elsewhere.

2. Make sure the property you are interested in is not already out of compliance with Association rules

Buying into an existing problem can be a headache, so find out what the rules are and whether you would have to make changes to the home to comply.

3.  Assess environmental practices

Being environmentally friendly may be important to you so make sure your Association also places the same importance on green practices.  If not, you may want to reconsider whether it is the right place for you.

4. Consider your temperament

This is super important.  If you don’t like being told what to do, Association living may be challenging for you.  Weigh the pro’s and con’s and decide wisely.  Don’t buy and then get upset because the Association is doing what it says it is going to do.

5. Understand about fees

Find out if an increase is under discussion, when the last increase was, learn about the reserve fund, ask about any assessments planned and a history of past assessments.  Compare fees to comparable associations in the area.

6. Get a copy of past meeting minutes

This can be very telling about the culture of the association you may be moving into.  See what the issues are and how they are being handled.  If you find the discussion is around a lot of petty items, you may want to reconsider.  Also, find out if the building is professionally managed by an outside company.  If so, check out the management company as well before you make a decision.

7. Is the building under-managed?  

It’s important that a Association is paying attention to the property and managing everything expertly.  While you don’t necessarily want to live somewhere with a hyperactive Association, the opposite can be worse as it will adversely affect your property values and your quality of life while you are living there.

8. Find out what kind of catastrophe insurance the Association has on the building

Find out what kind of flood, wind and other catastrophe insurance the building has.

9. Consider the impact of Association fees on your short- and long-term finances

A condo with high Association fees might end up costing you as much as the house you don’t think you can afford.


You will be thankful for your Association when they prevent your neighbor from painting her house neon green, but not so much when they impose rules that you find too restrictive. Before you purchase a property subject to Association rules and fees, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Living in a Community Association can be perfect for you especially if you know what to expect before you move in.

About PeytonBolin, PL

Founded by partners Mauri Peyton and Jane Bolin, PeytonBolin, PL is a Florida-based law firm focused on the practice of community association law. Committed to providing resourceful, knowledgeable, and consistent representation for associations and individual owners, the entire staff operates as a team to provide the highest quality service. We bring our litigation experience and skills to each matter in a case-specific and cost-effective way. Although always prepared to litigate aggressively for our clients, we are practical problem solvers who seek solutions that avoid or minimize litigation.

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Community Association Code of Ethics to take it from Good to Great

Community Association Code of Ethics, PeytonBolin, Fort Lauderdale, FLEvery community association needs a clear, concise code of ethics. These codes help protect the community and provide guidelines for leaders and board members.

Community Association Institute (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.aspx)  put together Principles for Community Association Success. We’ve highlighted some key information from that resource guide in this article which is part 3 of a 3 part series. Part 1 covered Rights and Responsibilities of Homeowners which can be found here, and Part 2 covered the Rights and Responsibilities of Community Association Leaders which can be found hereTo see the original document from CAI click here. (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.pdf)

When you are drafting a code of ethics, there is a lot to consider. Take a look at the most important elements that you should include in your community code of ethics. Continue Reading…

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Advertising on your Community Association’s Website

Consider these facts before advertising on your Community Association’s Website.

Advertising on your Community Association’s Website, PeytonBolin PL, Fort Lauderdale, FLYour community association website should have one ultimate goal: enhancing communication. This includes communication between the board, residents, owners, and community leaders. Websites can be used to post notices, conduct surveys, publish board meeting information, upload classifieds, and release inspection requests. Neighborhood links, FAQs, forums, events listings – there is no limit to what you can post on your community website.

Continue Reading…

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5 Effective ways of communication for your Community Association

How Community Associations Keep in Touch with Residents with effective ways of communication.

Effective ways of communication - PeytonBolinEvery community association, no matter how large or small, needs clear, concise, and consistent communication with its residents. Good communication helps board members and community leaders explain decisions, distribute information, and develop a solid relationship with everyone in the community.

It is absolutely vital that you communicate with your residents, but what’s the best way? The truth is, if you want to keep in touch with your residents, you need to use many different forms of communication. Continue Reading…

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Do You Need a Security Guard at Your Gate?

For some communities one of the top responsibilities of community associations, if not the #1 priority, is maintaining a safe, secure environment.

Security Guard at Your Gate - PeytonBolinTaking the right steps to prevent theft, vandalism, and violent crimes is essential for community leaders, and one of these potential measures is hiring a security guard for the gate.

Before deciding whether or not to hire a security guard, take a look at some important factors. Give all of these issues honest consideration and you’ll be able to make the right decision for your community. Continue Reading…

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Creating a Great Community Association: Rights and Responsibilities of Community Association Leaders

Community Leaders Taking associations from good to Great - PeytonBolinBeing a community leader with an association can be a very rewarding job. Leaders help the community thrive through events, communication, and activities, allowing you to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Community Association Institute (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.aspx)  put together Principles for Community Association Success. We’ve highlighted some key information from that resource guide in this article which is part 2 of a 3 part series. Part 1 covered Rights and Responsibilities of Homeowners which can be found hereTo see original document from CAI click here. (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.pdf)

There are, however, certain rights that you need to maintain, along with responsibilities as a community leader. Remember these rights and responsibilities, and you will get more enjoyment as a community leader.

Continue Reading…

Risks of Buying a Preconstruction Condo

preconstruction condoBuying Preconstruction Condos

Have you ever wondered if buying a preconstruction condo at preconstruction prices is a smart move?  What happens if there are delays or changes in design?  Or worse, what happens if all the units don’t get sold?

MarketWatch writer Dan Barnabic tackles this topic as part of his series 10 condominium golden rules for buyers, where he cites one of the cases being handled by our team at PeytonBolin lead by founding partner Mauri Peyton.  Buying Preconstruction Condo risks

Bottom line: If you are thinking about buying a preconstruction condo unit, consult with a real estate attorney who can insert their own contingencies into purchase contracts. To read the full story, click here. (http://www NULL.marketwatch

Creating a Great Community Association: Rights and Responsibilities of Homeowners

As a homeowner in a community association, there is much that you can do to ensure everyone in your community enjoys a great neighborhood.

Community Association Institute (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.aspx)  put together a great resource guide on Principles for Community Association Success. We’ve highlighted some key information from that resource guide in this article which will be part of a 3 part series.  To see original document click here. (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.pdf)

By understanding your rights and responsibilities, you will help maintain property values, preserve a sense of community, and bring top-quality leadership to your association.Taking Your Community Association from Good to Great - PeytonBolin

Let’s take a look at what you, the homeowner, need to know about your rights as well as your responsibilities. Continue Reading…

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Strategies for Dealing with Noise Problems

Noise Problems in your community? Let’s go over strategies on how to deal with them.

Strategies for Dealing with Noise Problems - PeytonBolin

When people are relaxing in their homes, the last thing that they want to deal with is loud noises coming from a stereo blaring in a neighbor’s apartment, people yelling in the common areas, or someone revving their motorcycle engine in the parking lot at three o’clock in the morning. People want peace and quiet, and they have a right to expect it in their homes. While it’s not possible to eliminate all noise from a complex, there are some ways to help in dealing with noise problems, which will reduce the amount of complaints that come into the HOA board. Continue Reading…

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