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Disadvantages of common interest community living

While nearly 66 million people in California and across the U.S. reside in common interest communities such as condominiums, gated subdivisions, vacation timeshares and retirement communities, these types of neighborhoods that are governed by condominium or homeowners' associations may not always be as good as they look. For example, an Idaho HOA demanded that a homeowner take down his Christmas decorations because they were at odds with his non-Christian neighbors' beliefs. Another HOA in Florida auctioned a family's house because the members were behind on paying their association fees.

Many people think joining an HOA will ensure that their property value will be protected. However, once they purchase the home, they might learn that they cannot hang a flag or certain holiday decorations outside their home. They may also be restricted about where they can park their cars or how many potted plants they can place around the home.

Furthermore, some COAs or HOAs are mismanaged. For instance, when one Florida couple's home was broken into, the homeowners sued their HOA because it failed to maintain the fence around their gated community.

Before purchasing into an HOA, people should fully understand the association's rules and regulations as outlined in the association's declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions. However, homeowners can still find themselves in an HOA dispute over issues such as assessment disagreements, pet policies, use of common areas and code violations. Homeowners who have a disagreement with their COA or HOA might want to contact a law firm for advice about settling the dispute.

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