Deed restrictions explained
Q: You mentioned deed restrictions. What are those? Do you have any examples?
A: Deed restrictions are title limitations. When you purchase a property, you receive certain rights. They include the right to occupy, the right of exclusion of others, the right of transfer and the right to will the property to your family as an estate, to name a few. You retain these rights unless you accept a transfer of lesser rights.
When you purchase in a condominium, a homeowners association or a cooperative, you accept title with lesser rights than the whole; these lesser rights are outlined in the deed restrictions. Deed restrictions can limit what you can park in your driveway; some outlaw commercial vehicles, mobile homes or boats, for example. Deed restrictions also can specify the color of your home, the type of landscape or type of trees or the style of roof.
When you close on your home in an association, you should receive a set of documents. These documents will include the deed restrictions that must be observed by all owners, residents and visitors.
Open communication with board
Q: I purchased in a homeowners association a few years back. Since the developer was in control, he hired a management company for the association. Recently the bank foreclosed on the developer and retained the management company. When the new budget was approved, it doubled our fees. I questioned the manager, but he provided only very basic information. About 25 percent of the homes are in foreclosure and not paying fees. The management fee remains the same — even with the homes not paying. Management has an off-site office and is not available in our community. Is there any recourse for the community to recover? Since a high number of homes have not been sold, we were told that the association cannot be turned over to the members. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Many associations have huge numbers of foreclosures as you find in your association. Unfortunately, there is little hope for a fast recovery. I suggest you find out who is on your board of directors and write to them (this information may be obtained from the manager or the bank). It is not a situation of having the association in your control; it is a situation of having communications with the party in control, the board of directors.
Don't let job nix qualified director
Q: If an individual is in the real estate industry as an agent, is it considered a conflict of interest having this person serve as a director of a homeowners association board?
A: Since you know that the individual is a real estate agent, it is not a conflict. However, if the agent uses information obtained as a director for their own gain, then it would be a violation of law. You do not exclude qualified people because of their occupation. You select directors for their willingness to serve, their qualifications and their experience.
If the agent appears to be an honest and intelligent person, appoint him/her to fill the vacancy.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.