Does a seller have to disclose trouble with the homeowner’s association (HOA) or condo association?
That’s a tricky one, and I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice.
Here’s how I understand it…
In Florida a seller is required to disclose latent defects about a house or property. A latent defect is a defect that a buyer can’t readily see with his or her own eyes.
For example, you can see a hole in a wall, so that is not a latent defect.
But if the roof leaks and you know about it, that is a latent defect you have to disclose because the buyer can’t see it, and may not even be able to see it if it is raining.
As far as a clash with the HOA goes, the clash is not a latent defect dealing with the house, per se.
It’s more likely trouble between two sets of personalities (between the seller and the HOA), or even the result of an overzealous HOA.
But, it still might be worth mentioning.
I’ll give you an example. A few years back St. Augustine was in the midst of a severe drought. We had a rainfall deficit of 18 inches (and in bordering counties it was even worse). Watering restrictions were severe…I think the max you were legally able to run a sprinkler was one day a week and only between certain hours.
So the sun was just baking the ground, and my friend had a house in an HOA that was a little overzealous about green lawns. Sgt. Schultz of the HOA started sending him letters that his lawn wasn’t green enough. So he called out a lawn guy who basically told him you can fertilize all you want, but the ground was going to stay brown until the rains started again. The only way you could get enough water on it was to water illegally.
So after my friend pointed this out to Herr Sgt. at the HOA, he (they) backed off. But since the issue came up in the first place, he disclosed it when he went to sell his home though he probably didn’t have to.
Now, on the other hand, if a seller is behind in his HOA or condo dues, I think that is something a seller must disclose.
If you are a buyer, especially a cash buyer, for a variety of reasons overdue HOA fees are something that might not get wiped away or caught at closing.
It could be for a reason as simple as the HOA hasn’t filed the necessary paperwork with the clerk of courts (and instead files it a few days after closing).
And even though a management company may have to transfer in the new owner, they might not communicate to the other side of the management company that handles past due fees.
An HOA or condo association can suspend an owner’s common area privileges, like use of a community pool, if the dues aren’t current. So the buyer might move in and then find out a few days later that he can’t use the pool.
An HOA or condo association can also force a tenant to send any rent monies directly to the association. So a buyer expecting to rent the property might discover that he won’t be getting the rent money…at least not until the past dues are paid up. Ouch!
And since these things are directly related to the use and enjoyment of the property, I think they have to be disclosed.
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