Getting to Know your HOA
When you are considering buying a piece of property that falls under the auspices of a homeowner association, you need to know exactly what rules and regulations they have in place. Your needs and wants from the property need to be in line with what the HOA expects, and if they are not, it tends to lead to problems down the line. It is better to avoid these problems in the first place. If you don't know the rules, you can't abide by them. Here's a list of questions that every homeowner should ask of the homeowner's association before they buy and move into the unit.
1. What Are the Pet Restrictions?
Whether you have a pet now, or you may plan to get one in the future (or if you don't want to be around any animals), you will want to know the pet policy for the community. Do they allow only certain types of pets? What's the maximum number/weight of pets allowed? Do they have any breed restrictions?
2. Do You Restrict Holiday Decorations?
If you love celebrating the holidays and decorating for the season, you want to know whether you will face any fines for decorating. It's also a good idea to ask about time limits for decorations. When can they go up and when do they need to come down?
3. What Is the Parking Situation?
Do owners have assigned parking spaces? What happens if someone else parks in the spot? Who do you contact? Additionally, you will want to ask about guest parking and where it is located.
4. Does the HOA Allow Rentals?
Some of the HOAs only allow owner occupied units and they will not allow you to rent out your property later. This can be very restrictive for many owners, particularly those who want to use the property as an investment.
5. What Are the Rules for the Community Areas?
Will your guests be able to use the community pool and fitness center, or are they only for owners and residents of the complex? What are the rules about bringing guests into any of the common areas for that matter?
6. Does the HOA Allow Home Businesses?
Anyone who plans to run their own business, even if it is just a part time business, needs to know the answer to this question. If the HOA doesn't allow this, and they find out that you are running a business from the unit, they can fine you, and you may have to shut your business down.
7. How Often Are the Dues Raised?
Ask how many times in the last five years the HOA dues have been raised. If there are a large number of increases, and there does not seem to have been many improvements to the property, it may be questionable.
8. Is the HOA Facing Current Lawsuits?
Sometimes, contractors may have to file lawsuits against the HOA for not paying them for their work. Other times, they may be sued because of an injury that occurred on the property. It's a good idea to know about any potential litigation that the HOA is facing and how that may eventually affect the price of the dues.
9. What Are the Smoking Regulations?
Are there any smoking regulations for the complex? Today, many HOAs are prohibiting smoking in any of the common and shared areas. This could affect you whether you are a smoker or not. You might be looking for a smoke-free property, and be unhappy if you unexpectedly end up living near someone who smokes indoors.
These are some of the most important questions that homeowners need to ask the HOA. If you have questions about these or any other home owner association matters, contact us today.