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Local groups aren't always friendly

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sometimes there's nothing neighborly about your neighborhood association.

Given the chance recently to sound off about what was bugging them, an overwhelming majority of Florida condominium owners lashed out at their community associations.

One town-house community association in Virginia Beach, Va., had a dogfight when the association board ruled against residents putting flowers in a common area behind their houses. Members hit the ceiling and the board backed off.

When you buy your house or condominium you're also agreeing to abide by a set of rules that may dictate placement of your kids' play set or even the shade of your curtains.

You're also taking part in the collective financial responsibility for common areas, such as playgrounds, swimming pools, streets and sidewalks.

In most cases you're accepting the decisions of a governing board made up of your neighbors that enforces the rules and decides how much members will pay in monthly or annual assessments.

Owners could also be liable for the cost of any legal battles the association takes on.

Be sure you know what you're getting into. For more information, check The Homeowners Association Manual ($17.45; Suncoast, PO Box 10094, Talahassee, Fla. 32302).

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