Real Estate in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch
Diane Christner

Deed Restrictions and Mandatory HOAs (and why you should always read the deed restrictions BEFORE you write that offer)

You’re looking through homes listed on some real estate web site on the Internet. A home catches your eye. The information states it’s in a “mandatory HOA” neighborhood. So what does that mean and how can it impact you if you do indeed buy that home?

Deed restrictions are essentially limitations written into a deed to restrict the control, occupancy or use of a property. They are also known as restrictive covenants. Because these restrictions are written into the deed, they transfer with the property from the previous owner to the new owner whenever the home transfers title.

Many subdivisions, especially newer ones, have deed restrictions to control the look and appeal of the neighborhood. The deed restrictions are recorded, usually by the original builder of the subdivision, and are available on line in the Clerk of Court records. They are typically called “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions and Easements.”

There are also typically a set of by-laws for the association, which set up the rules for running the homeowners association. These usually cover the definition of who exactly are members, how voting will be done by members, who makes up the Board of Directors and how they are elected, powers and duties of Board of Directors members are defined, rules for fiscal management of the association, parliamentary rules for meetings and rules for how amendments can be made to the deed restrictions, etc.

The deed restrictions contain the rules and regulations for land use and property standards for the homes in the community. Typical restrictions would include how the property can be used by the homeowner and what exterior changes the homeowner may make to his/her home.

Here are some common items covered by HOA deed restrictions:

lots for residential use, no commercial activities on the property

what type of vehicles can be parked on the lot – often trailers, RV's, boats are restricted and cannot be parked where they can be seen

dwelling changes – you may have to have any improvements or changes to your home approved by the HOA architectural committee even if permits are not required by the county, such as changing paint colors or major landscaping changes

garages & parking – there are usually rules about not converting garages to living space, some have rules about no cars parked overnight on streets to driveways. Most have rules about commercial vehicles or vehicles with commercial signs not being parked on driveways overnight, they must be kept in garages

accessory buildings – most have rules about adding sheds or other structures to the lot, ie what type are allowed (if any)

roof types – some HOAs have rules on what type of roofs you may install or shingle colors to keep things uniform throughout the community

fences – some HOAs have rules on whether you can install fences and what type if allowed

solar panel equipment, satellite dishes, clothes lines, window AC units – most have restrictions on if/how and where you can install these items

pets – most HOAs have restrictions on what type of animals may be kept as pets, some HOAs restrict the number or size of allowed pets

Rentals – most newer HOAs have rules on how often you can rent a home, such as no unit may be rented more than twice a year and cannot lease for a period of less than 6 months.

These homeowner associations will also charge dues or fees on an annual, quarterly or monthly basis to maintain the common grounds and run the business of the HOA.

Some people hate deed restrictions, they feel they unnecessarily restrict what the homeowner can do with his/her property. Others like deed restrictions because they do give an overall standard for the subdivision that all homeowners must maintain, thereby keeping up the property values as a whole. Homes in deed restricted communities tend to sell for higher prices than homes in neighborhoods without deed restrictions.

If you are looking at homes in a subdivision with a mandatory homeowners association, be sure to get and read a copy of the deed restrictions and by-laws BEFORE you write an offer. You’ll want to determine what rules and regulations you will be required to comply with should you purchase in that community.   Ignorance of the rules and regulations will not give you a “get out of jail free card” with the homeowners association.

I also recommend obtaining a copy of the most recent year’s budget of the HOA and at least the past 3 months worth of official minutes from the Board of Director meetings to see what issues are being brought up and how well the Board functions as a group.

The more knowledge you have, the better choices you can make.

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About Diane Christner

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Diane Christner


941-877-6852941-877-6852 main

Bright Realty

5218 Station Way Sarasota, FL 34233

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