Many people opt to live in a condominium or community that has a homeowners association in order to reduce maintenance and yard work, or to take advantage of other benefits of such communities.Yet, with the benefits may come to some challenges as well.
An association will generally have restrictive covenants that control what its residents can do on common property and even on their own property. Some are stricter than others, and there is no rule whatsoever about what the restrictions might be. Some restrictions might be acceptable to a given person while others might not. While most people would probably agree that raising chickens in such a community is not a good idea, some may have a problem if they are forbidden from parking the vehicle that advertises the owner’s business on the premises.
The most important documents are those that are recorded in the public records. They will be mentioned by book and page number in the title insurance policy. A buyer is automatically deemed to be on constructive notice of the contents of recorded documents; that is, they will not prevail in a court action if they argue they were unaware of the documents. To amend a recorded document, one must normally hold a vote of owners following the particular amendment provisions stated in the document.
Normally the recorded documents also refer to rules and regulations, which are generally not recorded, and are created and revised by the board of directors instead of the owners. Rules and regulations cannot contradict provisions of the declaration, and may be challenged if they impose significant restrictions that are not mentioned in the declaration. For example, if the declaration does not forbid pets, a rule that does so may be challenged.
When purchasing in a condominium, there is a right of rescission period for reviewing the documents, but that is not true when the community has a homeowners’ association. Before contracting to purchase in such a community, a buyer should review the documents carefully and be sure they are acceptable.