7 steps to survive the homeowner association challenge

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Survival in a common interest development governed by a board of directors or homeowners association can be challenging. Some residents love them, some hate them. But it’s a real case of “love it or leave it.” Or more accurately, “Like it or lump it.”

Here are seven critical steps you should take — before and after taking the plunge — to survive the HOA and CC&R experience:

  1. Read everything. Carefully go over every document. In almost all states, HOAs must disclose fully what covenants will be enforced, and what rules you’ll have to live by. Don’t wait until you’re about to sign, insist on seeing the disclosures beforehand. You have to know what you’re getting into.
  2. Demand to be told the financial condition of the HOA — are there sufficient funds in its reserves to repair common areas? Does a reputable firm or a bonded individual handle its funds?
  3. Find out if the association is engaged in litigation that could mean massive assessments against you.
  4. Ask around, talk to residents — is the association constantly in conflict with its members? Does it prefer lawsuits to mediation?”
  5. Hire an attorney. And make sure to get one who specializes in real property issues.
  6. Get involved. If you’re not happy living in a community association, see if you can change the way it operates — by getting involved. Attend HOA meetings; see if your neighbors feel as you do.
  7. Get elected. Best of all, get elected to the association board. Then, you’ll make the rules!