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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Many homeowners' association members wish they had read ahead

When purchasing a residence here in California, buyers engage in a great deal of due diligence in order to make sure they are purchasing the property they believe they are. Title searches, home inspections and appraisals are just part of that process. However, one piece of advice that many homeowners' association members may give to prospective buyers is to read up on the rules, covenants, conditions and restrictions and bylaws, along with any other pertinent documentation, about the HOA before signing on the dotted line.

Without a thorough review of the HOA's governing documents, a buyer could end up having to give up the family pet or may not be able to have that annual holiday party. The fact is that homeowners who become members of HOAs may discover they are restricted from engaging in many activities. Most people know that they must pay dues and may not be able to paint their homes purple, but it is these more subtle rules that could make living in a certain community undesirable for an individual.

Homeowners may not be able to use their garages for storage or making certain renovations or additions to their homes. They may even be required to pay extra for special assessments if the board needs more money for a community repair, improvement or some other matter. The law allows these additional payments within reason, but they can still be cost prohibitive for some buyers.

Reading the applicable documents often sounds easier than it actually is. Even homeowners' association members who have lived in a neighborhood for years may not understand or even be aware of everything contained in them. As part of the due diligence process, it may be a good idea to sit down with an attorney who understands California's HOA laws and routinely assists homeowners and boards alike in order to gain as complete an understanding as possible of the community rules and rights as an HOA member.

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