Legal Advice Regarding Condominiums, Co-ops and Home Owner Associations (HOAs)

States have specific, detailed laws that deal with Condominiums and Cooperatives (Co-ops). If you are buying one, make sure you have your attorney review the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) or Bylaws, which can be up to 50 pages long or longer, and which are often very lengthy and detailed. These documents lay out your rights and obligations as a member or shareholder of the building or complex.

In addition, title issues with regard to these types of developments are somewhat more complicated, as are legal descriptions. Remember, when you buy a condo or co-op, there are fees (often referred to as “maintenance fees”) that are in addition to your mortgage, and they may be requirements that you spend a certain amount of time contributing to the governance of the development.

A Home Owner Association (HOA) is a group of owners, usually within the same subdivision or within adjacent subdivisions, who are part of a mutual benefit organization that governs the activities and aesthetics or the area covered. It is often formed by the developer of the subdivision as a not-for-profit corporation, but may also be formed by the residents themselves. Home Owner’s Associations have been on the rise in the United States and are increasingly replacing the “subdivision indentures” that formerly governed such matters in various communities.

Some HOA bylaws contain onerous restrictions and subject the property owners to high additional private tax assessments and even summary foreclosure rights. An attorney can advice you of your rights and obligations through a review of the HOA bylaws, as well as help you address grievances in the event that you already own a property within HOA boundaries.

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