Many communities, including condos, townhomes and single-family homes in master-planned communities, require residents to join a homeowners’ association. Gated communities and everyday subdivisions have them, as well, so you need to know what you’re getting into if you’re buying a house in Tampa or the surrounding suburbs that has a homeowners’ association, or HOA. That’s true whether you’re buying a condo in Apollo Beach, a luxury home in Odessa, or a golf course home in Largo.
Homeowners’ Association Dues
When you live in a community with a homeowners’ association, you’ll be responsible for paying dues. The amounts vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and what you’ll get in return varies as well. Some HOAs maintain a neighborhood pool and common areas, while others simply landscape, provide a guard at the gate or keep the streets and sidewalks clear.
All homeowners’ associations have rules; they’re called covenants, conditions and restrictions, or CC&Rs. The rules may cover what kind of siding you’re permitted to use, the grasses and landscaping features you can add, and even the size and types of pets you’re permitted to have.
If you violate your homeowners’ association’s CC&Rs, you could be fined. Sometimes fines are assessed for allowing your grass to become too tall, failing to clean up pet waste or a number of other infractions, so it’s always a good idea to understand exactly what your HOA requires you to do (or not do) in order to stay in compliance with the CC&Rs.
Existing Problems with an HOA
Make sure that if you’re buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA that there are no current problems with the home that could put you in violation of the CC&Rs the moment you take possession of the keys.
HOA Fees Can Change
Before you purchase a home in a community with an HOA, see how fee increases are set. Ask for a copy of the fee schedule over the past 10 years to find out how many times it has increased and make a solid projection about how your dues will change in the future. You should also find out exactly what your HOA dues will cover, because it’s another expense – over and above your mortgage payment – that you’ll need to bear.
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