Larry Murphy was a proud resident of the Tides Condominium at Sweetwater, in Jacksonville, Florida, when he decided to display his patriotism with a 17 inches American flag placed in a flower pot in his porch.

No long after, according to his own statement to The Washington Post, the Tides Condominium Association deemed the flag an “unauthorized object” for which he would incur in a $100 a day fine if he didn’t remove it. The community’s bylaws allow residents to fly flags on poles but not to place them in flower pots. Murphy insisted in his way of displaying it.

The fight cost the resident seven years, thousands of dollars and his home, that he had to sell because he was facing foreclosure.

If you are looking to buy or rent a property in a planned community, condominium or cooperative governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), your realtor should provide you with a copy of the rules and regulations. Unfortunately this not always happen or you may put the document away with other paperwork and not read them. Knowing the rules in advance not only will help you make a decision about where you want to live but will save you headaches and money once you move in.

Each HOA have its own set of rules --The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) --to regulate resident behavior, architecture and common responsibilities. Most of these norms cover common sense issues like noise level, clutter, property maintenance and pets. But there are many others that would depend on the state, type of community (is it for retirees?), type or property (apartments or houses) and other factors. Also, local governments may have codes, laws, and, possibly, taxes that associations must meet.

Once you become a member of a HOA you are bound by its rules, that may be enforced by the board or an external management company.

Some rules can be very restrictive and will regulate from the way your park your car in your driveway to the breed of dog you are allowed to own. You also have to be aware of the fees and dues you must pay every month and the consequences for non-payment.

It is important to keep in mind that if you decide to live in a community governed by a HOA you are indeed relinquishing a bit of your freedom. Granted, you are in many cases allowed to request changes to the rules, but you have to gather the support of the majority of the residents to gain approval. Also, in any dispute, the board will always hold the collective rights above the individual rights.

The easiest way to have peace of mind and determine if the regulations fit your lifestyle is to have access to all the information relevant to the community you are considering and EasyMGT can help you to do just that.

As a one-stop information hub of thousands of community associations and property management companies, you can access these documents online and we can answer any doubt you may have about bylaws, rules and regulations.

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