Homeowners Associations: The Good and the Bad

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Homes in Florida might be a little bit different than in other parts of the country. Orlando Is a relatively new city, with the large majority of  homes built within the last 40-50 years. Because our homes are newer, developers choose to build homes in Planned Unit Developments. Also known as PUD’s, these communities allow for systematic home construction, and a uniform neighborhood feel. It’s important to know what planned unit developments are, because Homeowners Associations are the binding laws of a PUD. 

History of HOAs

Orlando saw a huge housing boom in the 1980’s. Many buyers were snowbirds, investors, and others who wouldn’t occupy the home full time.  To guarantee the neighborhood would be well cared for in their absence, developers created and marketed Homeowners Associations to make neighborhoods more desirable, maintain property values, and sell homes more quickly. 

What is an HOA

Homeowners Associations are a list of documents used to govern a planned unit development. With many homes in a neighborhood, it’s important to adhere to set standards to keep the neighborhood looking clean, tidy, and in the best possible condition. Celebration *LINKKKK***** is an extreme example of HOA’s maintaining the look and feel of the neighborhood. Celebration also has the highest home prices in Osceola County. Communities like Celebration are an extreme example of HOA rules and regulations, most communities will have more relaxed rules. 

When you move into a neighborhood with an HOA, it’s important to understand that membership is mandatory. The HOA is tied to the homes within the bounds of the neighborhood, those homeowners become a part of the HOA once they purchase the home. 

Homeowners Associations are governed by documents created by the builder of the neighborhood. Once the builder has completed the neighborhood, they will transition the rights to the governing board of the Homeowners Association. 

The HOA has the right to impose lien-based assessments on the property if you violate rules. These liens must be paid. If not, the HOA will have the right to collect fees. 

What are common HOA rules in Florida?

  • Grass length – usually, your grass may not grow taller than a certain predetermined amount.
  • Paint color – Yesterday I drove through a neighborhood with dark green paint and mustard-yellow trim. Having an HOA which approves paint-colors would have been a benefit to this person’s neighbors.
  • Fences – Almost all HOA’s allow for fences (except for those living on a golf course) Most often, an HOA will restrict the style of fence permitted in the neighborhood, like aluminum iron, wood, PVC plastic, to maintain consistency. 

If you are new to living in a homeowners association, it’s important to understand where you are moving to. If a neighborhood looks clean and sanitized, it most likely has a strict HOA. The opposite of that is also true: If the neighborhood is more relaxed and homes are more personal, the HOA is probably relaxed. 

Final take

I’ve lived in HOA neighborhoods all of my life. In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad; I enjoy knowing my neighbors can’t build a shed in their front yard or park their RV on the street for months at a time. The only drawback is knowing large changes to the exterior of my home (paint color, adding a fence, pool) must first be approved by the HOA board. That is a small price to pay for knowing the neighborhood will be kept clean, tidy, and good-looking. 

Eric Gross

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