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Questions on Gated Community Rules and Regulations

A simple way of defining a gated community would be to describe it as a residential development with controlled access. There are many kinds of gated communities that exist in the United States today that differ both in size and the facilities that they offer. From small and compact communities, gated communities can be large, sprawling communities that offer not only residential properties but also facilities for recreation, entertainment, dining, retail and more.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on gated community related issues.

In a gated community that is being run by a homeowners’ association (HOA), one parking stall has been assigned to each resident. Is the HOA allowed to tell residents not to park their second car in an unassigned parking space?

The HOA can definitely specify rules about unassigned parking spaces. Usually, specific limitations and guidelines are laid down for how these spaces are used and they are often short-term in nature. You can look at what the rules are but ultimately you would have to go with the HOA’s decision regarding parking.

I live in South Carolina in a gated community. Since we have a private internal road system, can this be considered private property and can we bar specific contractors from our premises?

Your community would be under control of a homeownersassociation. Thus, the common property, which includes roads and land that does not legally belong to any one individual, would be considered private property and the HOA would regulate it. Therefore, they would have the right to restrict access to the premises.

Can a California gated community of individual property owners be protected by trespassing laws?

A gated community that consists of privately owned property, property that is common to the HOA, as well as private roads, does possess the rights to say who may visit the property. This is how it would work: Individual land owners can control who steps on to their private land unless they have give up any rights to this in the HOA by-laws, and the HOA can prevent specific persons from trespassing on the common property that belongs to the HOA.

Whose responsibility would it be to repair the curbs in a gated community?

You can determine this by examining the property description to understand where the property line lies. For example, if the curb falls on the homeowner's side, it will become their responsibility to repair it; if not, it will be treated as the responsibility of the HOA. The property line will clearly show where a homeowner’s property ends and where the HOA's begins.

I am a handicapped person who resides in a mid-size gated community in Cincinnati. Recently, I my car was towed away because I parked in a reserved handicapped spot and accidently dropped my placard when I got out of the car. Without informing me, the management towed my vehicle away causing me unnecessary stress and expense. Is this behavior warranted?

This is definitely not the right way to treat a tenant. The management could have at least attempted to notify you before they towed your car away. Also, if you have reserved the spot since you are handicapped, they should ideally have had a record of your license plate in the system. They should waive the towing costs to make this up to you.

In a gated community, the amenities that are available depend on certain factors like geographical location, demographic composition, community structure, and community fees collected. There could be sub-associations that belong to a master association which then becomes the main body that provides many of the facilities. The bigger the association, the more facilities that can be provided. Also, as security is usually a top feature in most gated communities, very often, visitors need to get special permission to enter the premises and may not be able to use all the facilities inside.
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