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CC&Rs apply to many Florida communities

Your long, trying task of finding the perfect Florida house is over. You found a beautiful place with just the right square footage and a pool, and it sits on a corner lot in the most well-kept neighborhood of all the ones you explored. You make an offer. It's accepted.

Just don't plan on painting your front door and trim robin egg blue or sunflower yellow. The rules don't allow anything but beige.

Oh, you didn't read the CC&R documents your real estate agent gave you? Put away the paint brush and check them out.

The CC&Rs –- short for covenants, conditions and restrictions -– govern what homeowners can and can't do with their property. They're not applicable in every neighborhood, but many planned communities and homeowners associations in Florida have CC&Rs. When you purchase your home and the deed is recorded, a copy of the covenant is filed along with it and becomes legally binding.

The rules are there to make sure every property owner follows the same conditions for the betterment of the community. Statistics show that neighborhoods that have well-designed and enforced covenants retain property values better that communities that don't have any governing rules. They are believed to be safer areas, as well.

The CC&Rs, however, are binding agreements not with a jurisdiction but among property owners. Since you voluntarily enter this agreement when you buy the property, they can be stricter than city zoning ordinances.

Sometimes, the regulations weren't drafted as well as they should have been. As a result, problems might arise. You might have some questions about your rights and responsibilities under the CC&Rs, or believe they are being improperly enforced. If that's the case, a consultation with an attorney experienced in real estate law could assist you.

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