QUESTION: A friend of mine who lives in a gated community would like to sell me his house. We agreed upon a price and I signed a contract. I've just learned that his house is part of a homeowners association and that I will have to pay fees. He never mentioned this and I'm not sure I can afford more than I've budgeted for the mortgage and upkeep. Can I opt out of the association when I purchase?
ANSWER: Your friend should have given you a disclosure summary about the homeowners association. Florida Statute 720.401 states that "A prospective parcel owner in a community must be presented a disclosure summary before executing the contract for sale."
The disclosure summary must contain all the facts prescribed by the statute including your obligation to be a member of the association; to pay association regular and special assessments; to abide by the covenants and a notice of where to find copies of the covenants. You cannot "opt out."
Your contract with your friend should have incorporated the disclosure summary and should have included a statement in prominent language that the potential buyer, you, should not execute the contract or agreement until you have received and read the disclosure summary.
The statute states that "If the disclosure summary in not provided to a prospective purchaser before the purchaser executes a contract for the sale of property governed by covenants that are subject to disclosure pursuant to this section, the purchaser may void the contract by delivering to the seller or the seller's agent or representative written notice canceling the contract within 3 days after receipt of the disclosure summary or prior to closing, whichever occurs first. This right may not be waived by the purchaser but terminates at closing."
This means that you have three days after receiving the disclosure summary to void the contract. Consider seeking the advice of a real estate attorney.
Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar Street in Cape Coral.
This article in not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving law.