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Condo ownership in Florida may come with surprises

Property ownership is a large part of the American Dream, and Florida is a great place to realize it. The real estate market in the Sunshine State has been doing well for years, and laws that protect homeowners are among the best in the country.

Many people decide to live in or invest in a condominium -- especially in the one of the large communities near Florida's beautiful beaches. Condos can come with extra legal complications that require extra preparation for the purchase transactions, as well as dealing with improvements and renovations down the line.

Homeowner's associations (HOAs) often govern some of the improvements made on condominium properties that affect the public space. Porches, decks and other features may be "limited common elements" in a condo agreement. The HOA's board may need to approve alterations of these features, and they may apply fines to a resident who acts without approval.

Some HOAs, especially in communities with a large number of homes, may have a high income. Florida statutes require these HOAs to obtain an audited statement of their annual finances, unless homeowners vote to waive this requirement. Audited statements are often helpful if tracking a possible misuse of funds.

Other aspects of condominium life may surprise new homeowners. For example, tenants in a condo community may be elected to the HOA board even without owning a property in it unless the board itself prohibits it.

Legal assistance may be useful in real estate disputes from transactions to improvements. Consider contacting an attorney if you are facing a problem with your property.

Source: TC Palm, "Can an owner enclose lanai without getting approval from condo association?," Steven J. Adamczyk, May 20, 2018

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