Have you inherited or are the executor of a piece of real estate subject to a homeowners association (HOA)? If so, you not only have the standard concerns that any heir has, but you must also deal with complications related to the HOA's involvement. What are some steps you should take to make sure your property is properly cared for and transferred? Here are a few to consider.
1. Find Out About Past Dues
When you talk to HOA management, ask about the prior owner's status in regards to monthly dues and special assessments. If the homeowner was behind in payments, the estate is likely responsible to catch up on payments. If any past due debts exist or a lien has been issued, contact a qualified real estate attorney to determine the next steps.
2. Pay Current Dues
Keep the property current on HOA dues so you avoid unnecessary legal trouble with the association. In general, HOAs have the ability to attach liens for unpaid dues, which can then cause difficulties selling the house or transferring it to heirs and completing probate.
3. Find Out the Rules
Ask the HOA management for copies of all relevant association paperwork, including the CC&Rs (covenant, conditions, and restrictions). While this property is in probate, the estate and heirs will be just as responsible for following the HOA rules as the late owner was. If needed, the estate or heirs may need to make any repairs or cosmetic changes to bring the home within the guidelines before it could be sold.
4. Research the HOA
No matter whether you plan to keep the property or sell it to someone else, you should familiarize yourself with the homeowners association itself. HOAs are usually well-managed and have the funds to keep up their end of the agreement. However, you want to make sure of this. Because you probably haven't been personally involved in working with this HOA, don't assume there aren't surprises in store.
5. Work With an Attorney
If you're new to homeowners associations or you find anything questionable in dealing with the HOA, contact a real estate law firm. An HOA agreement can be long and complicated, and real estate is a significant part of most estates. You need to ensure that you get the most value from it and avoid legal delays.
Where to Start
Want to know more about navigating inherited property and HOAs? Start by meeting with real estate legal services in your state.