Albert Moore, Attorney at Law

What Should I Know About An HOA Or A Condo Association Before I Make A Purchase?

Probably the most important factor that a prospective buyer in a condominium or HOA association should be aware of is whether or not there are any delinquencies that the prior owner owes to the association and that may take the form of regular maintenance assessments, it may take the place of special assessments, there may be late fees or attorney fees that have been incurred because the new owner, unless it’s some type of special circumstance such as a tax deed sale, the new owner is going to be responsible for the prior owner’s obligations for those delinquent assessments. So usually what happens is that there is a request from the association for an estoppel letter which details all that so the new owner knows what kind of money they are going to owe if any, to the association before they close on the property. Those figures may be right and they may not be right.

That’s one of the rules that the association attorney is to try and make sure that those figures are correct and then if there is an attorney that is representing the prospective buyer, it’s important to look those over and to make sure that the association is not overcharging the prospective buyer The other thing that is most important is that the associations are required whether they are condo or HOA to have their governing documents recorded or at least most of them. There is a declaration of covenants or declaration of condominium, there are the bylaws which are also recorded, the articles of incorporation are recorded. The only other governing documents that usually are not recorded are the rules and the regulations but in all those documents along with the Florida statutes may govern what the association can restrict and the procedures that the association would have to go through to enforce such restrictions.

So if an owner has a question about whether or not they are able to bring their pet with them to a condominium association, they have to review the governing documents on that. That gets a little tricky because it may be in the declaration of covenants. Something like that typically wouldn’t be in the bylaws but you really have to check all the governing documents. Certainly, it may be in the rules and regulations, so you need to check all 4 of the governing documents to make that determination. One of the other things that people get tripped up on when they are trying to this themselves about help with counsel is there are also amendments that were recorded after the original declaration. Its part of the original bylaws and so you have to search the public records very carefully to make sure that there hasn’t been some type of amendment to the original declaration that changes the particular restriction that the owner is interested in.

As I stated before, they may be interested in modifying their unit or their house, so they need to look at those kinds of terms in the declaration to see how specific they are and to see how restrictive those terms are and what kinds of boards an owner needs to get approval from to make such changes to their property. There are also parking issues that without looking on the declaration, you can’t just rely on just what the seller is telling you, you can’t just rely on what the property manager is telling you. You have to look at the governing documents to make sure that you understand completely what the owner does or what kinds of restrictions that they are going to have to live with.

For more information on Researching HOA & Condo Associations, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (772) 242-3600 today.

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