Can You Live by the Rules of a Homeowners’ Association?

Town homes or apartments that are located in gated communities or condominium complexes can be attractive real estate investments.

In a complex, you won’t have to worry about paying for exterior landscaping, a new roof, exterior siding or similar concerns, because maintenance is handled by the complex.

But there’s a hitch. If you buy into a condo, townhouse or subdivision development, there will almost certainly be a homeowners’ association there. And it will require you to live under its regulations and rules.

Some of those rules can be pretty extreme and limiting to real estate developers. Be sure to check them out before you buy. Here are some examples of typical rules that might be in force . . .

  • Trucks cannot be parked in any driveways or streets within the complex unless they are making deliveries that will take fewer than five minutes.
  • No construction work can be performed before 9:00 A.M. on weekdays, and not at all on weekends.
  • All tenants must be approved by the board of the tenant’s association.
  • The board of the association has the right to determine whether certain improvements must be made on the unit you own. These could include a new roof, a new path, or a new front door. Many of these improvements will be paid for from the common fund. However, you have only limited say about where and how those funds will be spent.
  • No leases of less than one year are permitted. No subletting either.
  • Only one pet is allowed per unit. And if a pet is found to be too noisy, the tenant must remove it from the complex within three days.
  • No signs of any kind (including signs that state “for sale” or “for rent”) may be displayed.
  • No owner or occupant shall install drapes or curtains that do not appear to be white from outside the unit. If a tenant wants blue curtains, he or she needs to put a white liner between them and the windows behind.

Be sure to check out the laws and bylaws before you invest! Failing to do so can result in wasted time and frustration.

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