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HOA musings: things to think about before you move in

As is so often true regarding a property owner's diatribe against a homeowners association and/or neighbors living in a planned community, it's those darned covenants and restrictions that emerge front and center as subjects of scorn and vitriol.

Residents know -- or should have a fairly firm grasp -- of what those are all about before signing off on all relevant ownership documents and accepting the keys to their new properties. Loosely, they comprise the residents' playbook regarding their etiquette and behavior in the community.

And they can certainly cover a lot of ground. We referenced what are formally termed the "Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) in our May 10 blog post, noting therein that they "cover just about everything that a homeowner might deem relevant."

Just think about that. The bylaws and CC&Rs address matters ranging from parking and aesthetics to noise levels and sought property modifications, and more.

It's obviously nice for a resident to know and come to terms with the details before he or she moves in.

A recent media article presents the HOA-related viewpoint of one homeowner that will be rather quickly appreciated by any reader. That writer views HOAs as "the work of Satan … used to make everyone on Earth hate everyone else and trust nobody."

OK, that's concededly extreme, and the author's overall delivery does reveal the piece to be a bit tongue and cheek and rendered somewhat dramatically to make a point.

That point, though, will likely resonate for many owners who have been frustrated by being targeted for things as innocuous as not picking up the daily newspaper from their driveway by a certain hour, or not stopping their dog from barking quickly enough.

Disputes will -- and often enough do -- occur in planned communities, both between neighbors as well as residents and their HOAs.

Those are often worked out, of course.

But sometimes they resist a solution and fester, to the point where an aggrieved property owner or board might reasonably want to consult with a proven real estate attorney well experienced in handling all manner of legal disputes that can arise in a planned community.

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