Condominium rules and restrictions at Lake Tahoe (Opinion)
Special to the Tribune
When buyers are looking at condominiums, or freestanding condos (also known as PUDs which is short for Planned Unit Developments), they are often comparing the advantages and disadvantages of buying into an association versus owning a traditional single-family home.
One of the first considerations is to determine exactly what the homeowners association provides in exchange for the monthly dues and to contrast that with the cost of maintaining a single-family residence. Some associations have dues that we refer to as being comprehensive. This means that the association takes care of the cost of water, sewer, garbage, landscaping, snow removal, exterior maintenance, amenities such as a pool or tennis court, common area liability insurance and insurance on the structure.
Not all HOAs are created equal and if you are purchasing a condo or PUD you might find that the association is not taking responsibility for some of the items listed above and that there are additional costs borne by the property owner.
It’s an important math exercise to calculate which costs are the responsibility of the HOA and which ones are paid by individual property owners in order to determine your true annual expenses. And when it comes to PUDs, many times you are responsible for the landscaping and exterior maintenance but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want when it comes to aesthetics if there are certain HOA standards and guidelines that need to be followed.
So, that brings us to the issue of control and what property owners can or cannot do when they purchase a condo or PUD.
It’s very important to review the CC&Rs, HOA regulations and board of directors minutes to learn what is or is not permitted within any particular complex. Many HOAs have moved to restrict or eliminate vacation rentals.
There are generally rules concerning pets, parking, length of guest stays and other important issues that could affect your use and enjoyment of a particular property.
Some associations give property owners close to free reign when it comes to making modifications inside their own four walls as long as any changes meet with all current building code requirements.
Quite often, significant interior modifications require the approval of the HOA architectural committee or board of directors. For example, some condo complexes have approved certain types of skylights while other associations prohibit the installation of new skylights under any circumstances.
You can generally paint the interior walls of your condo or PUD pretty much any color that you want. But try painting the exterior or the front door a color that differentiates from what has already been approved in your development and you might come home to find a warning notice asking that you correct the situation promptly.
Most HOAs like to maintain a certain level of uniformity and consistency when it comes to the exterior architectural style, paint colors, siding, trim and roof. It can be very difficult to make changes to exterior features, even adding a window that makes your place look different might not be permitted.
Just because you own it doesn’t mean that you control it.
When it comes to purchasing real estate in a multi-unit development, each HOA has its own set of rules and regulations that buyers should thoroughly study and understand during the due diligence period when entering into a purchase contract. Your agent can help guide you and provide a general overview, but they should not be relied upon as the sole source of information due to the variations in rules and regulations between complexes.
Buyers should always ask whatever questions they feel are important and gather the necessary information to make an informed decision when buying any property that has a Homeowners Association.
Don Kanare is the founder and Sabrina Belleci is the owner and broker of RE/MAX North Lake in Incline Village. You can follow their blog at http://www.InsideIncline.com.