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Not only is being a homeowner exciting, but it can also be financially rewarding as well. That said, legal issues can arise, which is fairly standard when it comes to owning something valuable. Thus, to keep yourself legally protected or at least apprised of your fundamental rights, we’ll go over some important legal tips for homeowners.
Owning a house is the ultimate goal, a big event that marks a new phase in your life. However, becoming a homeowner comes with many responsibilities and potential legal risks that you might not necessarily be aware of. But the good news is you have come to the right place. Here are a few legal tips for dealing with common home-related issues, along with some suggestions on how to handle these risks or issues if they do arise.
Ideally, before you find your desired house, close on it, and are handed the keys, it is important to know some of the potential legal requirements involved with homeownership. That said, these are some home-related situations that can often come up that you may need to be prepared for legally.
If you own a condo, townhome, or house in an association, then you know that the homeowner association is extremely powerful. Moreover, not paying dues, violating their rules, or doing anything else to end up on the wrong side of them could leave you subject to fines or a possible foreclosure. Consequently, it is important to know your HOA rules and bylaws, stay on top of your dues or any financial obligations, and get help when you need it.
Repairs and renovations are, more often than not, an inevitable part of homeownership. In the event that you hire a contractor or a professional, however, it is important to avoid taking the lowest bid, at least not without considering other important factors such as their references, license, and whether they are properly insured. So make sure to check the contractor’s references and confirm that he or she is licensed and insured. You should also ask for a detailed estimate of the cost and scope of the work before agreeing to anything to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Whether or not the old adage good fences make for good neighbors is true, one thing is for sure bad neighbors likely make for legal problems. Thus, before dealing with or confronting your neighbors, it is in your best interest to research your community’s laws to see what your options are for dealing with common neighbor issues/disputes. It is good to know what your responsibilities are as a neighbor, as well.
Paperwork is part of having a house. So make sure that you keep important information (insurance documents, warranties, deeds, wills, etc.) in a safe location to prevent key documentation from being lost or destroyed. In doing so, you will have it when you need it most.
If you are thinking about moving out and turning your house into a rental or purchasing an investment property, it pays to take the time to see if you can really do it. Not only can your mortgage, homeowner association bylaws, and community’s laws all possibly prohibit you from renting out your house, but they can also impose conditions or extra costs. Thus, it is crucial that you double-check before turning your property into a rental.
Sadly, when you own a house, you are also at risk of being the victim of mortgage scams. This is especially true if you also have strong credit, as you could become a likely target for identity thieves trying to steal your good name and money. Here, you need to be diligent about situations that seem too good to be true. This means reading the fine print, asking questions, as well as taking steps to protect your finances, identity, and more.
Your insurance does more than pay if something happens to your home. It can also give you liability protection that pays off if someone is harmed at or on your property. Given that you could lose your house in a suit, this protection is particularly valuable and thus should not be something you skimp on or skip.
As you are likely aware, property rights are the foundation of homeownership. But be that as it may, this collection of privileges and protections varies from state to state and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Thus, it is vital that you read up on the rights and real estate/property laws in your desired location. That said, typically, property rights as a homeowner that are fundamental include:
Note, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are certain caveats here, as some of the above-mentioned rights you can lose under certain circumstances. For instance, if you fail to pay your property taxes or fall behind on your mortgage payments, then you could lose your right of possession via foreclosure proceedings.
By now, you know that being a homeowner requires more than just mowing the lawn and painting on occasion. Overall, the situations discussed here are just a few possible scenarios in which legal assistance may be required. These legal tips and suggestions, moreover, are something to keep in mind as you embark on your journey as a homeowner.
That said, in general, it is highly recommended that you pay careful attention to your legal exposure and manage it. Depending on the issue at hand, knowing who to contact for help is key. For example, if your matter concerns your mortgage, then you should first and foremost contact your lender or mortgage company. Other people that may be of some assistance include your local housing counselor, your HOA board, and legal representation ( again, depending on the issue). Ultimately, a little bit of care, research, and the appropriate expert assistance can save you a lot of money as well as trouble down the line.
Do you have questions about home loans or becoming a homeowner? If so, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local mortgage company from Bellevue, Washington, serving the entire state, as well as Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. We offer many mortgage programs to buyers all over the Pacific Northwest and have been doing so since 1992. Contact us today with any questions you have about mortgages.
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