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Author:  Jeff Gilmour
President of Association of Residential Communities [ARC]
2 August 2021

Know your rights and responsibilities when buying into a residential community

It’s often the lifestyle – portrayed through beautiful photographs and a little advertising poetry – that gets potential buyers excited about the prospect of fishing, golf or bespoke wine in their own back yard.

According to the Association of Residential Communities (ARC), when buying into a residential community that is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) or a body corporate, most do not fully understand the many intricacies involved in running or living within a community, as opposed to a regular suburb.

Jeff Gilmour, President of ARC, says looking under the wrapping before buying into a lifestyle community is vital.

How are your monthly levies allocated?

“Questions must be asked,” he says. “Most buyers understand they’ll pay monthly levies, but do you know how they are allocated? Are you aware that special levies may be raised for a specific project that the board of directors or trustees is implementing?”

Once you start asking the questions, Gilmour notes, you get a deeper understanding of how everything from budgets, the election of directors or trustees and other legal responsibilities impacts on owners.

Keep abreast of best practices, changing legislation

Residential communities that become members of ARC are kept abreast of best practices, changing legislation, new technologies and systems, ensuring their information is always current and therefore legal.

Who needs to know?

Both buyers into a community and those living there should be aware of the policies and procedures in place and what the rules and regulations are. “This includes what you are allowed or not allowed to plant in your garden; your responsibility regarding pets; and rules on the safe storage of chemicals and more,” Gilmour notes.

When a resident may or may not mow their lawn or use noisy equipment; rules that govern the use of common areas, amenities and facilities within the community; and what fittings and fixtures you may or may not attach to the outside of your property are just a few of the rules everybody in the community must be aware of – and it’s the job of the directors and trustees to ensure that awareness and compliance.

ARC advises those buying into a community ask to meet the community manager prior to moving in to ascertain what possible challenges they may need to address, and how they can add value to the community at large.

Says Gilmour, “Make sure you get answers to all your questions prior to signing the offer of purchase. Whether you’re buying the property as an investment or for your own use, knowing what the rules are is not just about abiding by them – it’s about protecting your valuable asset.

Investing in the right knowledge

Because the need to know what you are buying in to is huge, ARC began providing learning opportunities and consulting services to the leaders and management of residential communities in 2008.

“This has evolved into ARC Online Learning, as we embrace the rapid advancement in technology that is shaping our everyday lives,” says Gilmour. “Importantly, online learning can be updated as quickly as laws and regulations change.”

Combining recorded sessions, animated images, vital documentation and links to resources as well as live online facilitated discussions, ARC online modules consolidate the learning and application to your specific role on your estate.

“Investing in your knowledge by participating in ARC’s online training is the most efficient way to ensure you are in control of safeguarding your lifestyle and your enjoyment of your community.”

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