Understanding community restrictions

Contributing Columnist

Question: Are there restrictions related to pets, children, trucks or RV’s and how do I find out about them?

Answer: Most single-family homes in the Sarasota-Manatee do not restrict children or the usual domestic pets. The counties codes may prohibit the parking of certain kinds of vehicles on the property or specify where those vehicles must be parked. They may also set standards for the maintenance of the exterior of the property. There are varying degrees of code enforcement throughout the counties.  Your Realtor would be familiar with these requirements.

Some single family homes have deed restrictions and these are usually under the governance of a home owner’s association (HOA). Often these HOA’s govern gated communities or some non-gated subdivisions. The restrictions may include such things as paint color for the home, yard maintenance and parking restrictions. The Association will have documents which spell out the requirements and these will be made available to a buyer prior to sale. In many cases, new buyers must be approved by the Board of Directors of the Association. Usually a background and credit check will be part of the approval process.

The most restrictive properties are often condominiums and they vary from a few to many rules. The documents and By-laws of the Condo Owner’s Association (COA) clearly delineate rules which range from age restrictions as in 55+ communities, pet policies, and vehicle restrictions, to what may be done to the exterior of the unit. Condos have master policies for insurance and the outside care of the building. The owner is responsible for the interior of the home. Some condo fees cover flood insurance while others do not. You should ask about your insurance responsibilities in advance.

We will elaborate on these restrictions in next week’s question and answer session. Again, these governing documents would be made available to the buyer prior to purchase, application and approval by the Board of Directors prior to closing.

In both cases, HOA’s and COA’s must follow Florida Statutes which outline the rights of owners and the responsibility of governing associations. Buyers and Realtors must both pay attention to restrictions that would not be in keeping with a lifestyle choice. For many buyers the choice of a condominium affords a maintenance free option with amenities such as a pool and recreational facilities that would not be affordable in a single family home. For others the restrictions inhibit lifestyle choices that are important and often these buyers would prefer a single family home.

Sheldon Paley, a resident of Longboat Key for 20 years and a realtor for 13 years, is affiliated with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Prior to moving to Longboat Key, Paley attended Ohio State University; U of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and Harvard Medical School for 18 months for a degree in Implantation.





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