Home Owners Associations (HOA), is an organization of property owners in a subdivision, development or condominium complex that administers the rules and covenants of that neighborhood or community. Covenants are legal, contractual agreements that are said to run with the land, meaning that the covenant cannot be separated from the land and is transferred with it when the property is sold. They are used to enforce certain standards of the community to keep property values from falling and can prohibit a number of things, including the color you can paint the home, fences, landscaping and building materials.

imagesRules are made and enforced by the HOAs in relation to property owner conduct, common areas such as pools and other amenities and even how many pets you can have.

Following are 5 tips for same sex couples and Home Owners Associations.

1. Before purchasing a home governed by an HOA, ask to see the rules and regulations or Codes, Covenants and Restrictions, CCRs. Review those documents carefully to make sure that you are comfortable living by those rules. For example, if you have four pets but the rules only allow you to have two, are you willing to find other homes for two of your pets?

2. Ask to see the HOAs financial statements. They are generally not obligated by law to show them to you if you are not a homeowner. Many HOAs are nonprofits and, as such, you may find their statements from the Secretary of State or other government office, depending on the state that you live in, that maintains corporate nonprofit licenses and financial statements.

3. Read the board of directors meeting minutes to find out if any special assessments are coming up. Special assessments are funds that are needed by the HOA for unexpected expenses or extraordinary repairs. They get those funds by charging each homeowner with a portion of the cost. That assessment is in addition to your normal HOA dues. You may also find out about any bylaw or other changes in how the community will operate that may have a direct effect on you.

4. Talk to your potential neighbors. This is an excellent way to find out how the HOA is doing financially and whether the homeowners are happy with the current board of directors. In addition, you will get a feel for the type of people living in the neighborhood and may even make new friends. This is especially important for same sex couples so that they can avoid the frustration of not being welcomed into the community.

5. Find out if the home you are considering purchasing is in violation of HOA rules. If it is, you will be required to correct the problem to avoid being fined by the HOA. The rules of all HOA organizations allow fines, liens and other consequences for noncompliance with its rules. Note that some states have laws dictate how HOAs can operate along with the notice requirements for violations of the HOAs rules. You should check your state’s HOA laws so that you are aware of what an HOA can legally get away with.

Living in a community that is governed by an HOA can be great for maintaining your property values and having someone else take care of the community amenities. Problems arise when the HOA does not do a good job or overly restricts what you can do on your own property. The above 5 tips for same sex couples and home owners associations can help you avoid bad HOAs that can end up costing you a lot of money and stress. An experienced local LGBT real estate agent from GayRealEstate.com will also know the ins and outs involved in purchasing a home in an HOA community and can guide you through the process while looking out for your best interests.