Central Arkansas Real estate…

What a Bill of Assurance Can do for you!


Bill of Assurance…

If you are purchasing a home – especially a new home – you may notice something called a “Bill of Assurance”. In the very simplest terms this is a list of rules and regulations that were put together when the subdivision or group of lots was developed to protect owners.

For example, a developer gives a bill of assurance to purchasers of lots to let them know that the development has standards for quality housing, this can include minimum home size, architectural details, and the quality of exterior materials including garages, fences, and auxiliary buildings.

Deed Restrictions:  In Florida we often called them “deed restrictions”. In some instances an HOA (Home Owners Association) may have the authority to enforce the rules. In one subdivision I lived in it was up to the residents to enforce the rules by hiring an attorney. The HOA could write letters, but eventually an attorney would have to be involved to enforce the rules if the offending culprit didn’t comply.

I like having these restrictions in a readable document. Always ask if the home you are considering buying has a Bill of Assurance and get a copy to read it.  Most title companies keep copies of these Bills of Assurance as they close properties.  My favorite local title company had one that was almost 30 years old!

Often times I have heard people say. “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do with my property. I make the payments”. While that may be true there is another side to consider.

A family I am very close to purchased a home on a street where there is no Bill of Assurance or deed restrictions. After a few years, their neighbor let his landscaping turn into a weedy mess which could really impact the value of their property.

Messy burn pileAfter weeks of looking off their patio to see this pile of mess. If you look closely you will see old pizza boxes and beer cartons among the weeds and trash. This “burn pile” was out of control.

Neighbors phoned into the city to ask this fellah to clean up his back yard. Thankfully there were some city codes that applied because the pizza boxes were drawing vermin (coyotes and raccoons).

So in my opinion, a Bill of Assurance is a good thing.

A Bill of Assurance or “Deed Restrictions” would have been very helpful in this case. It pays to do your research. You may not want people to “tell you what to do with your property” but if you had this beside you as my friend did just maybe you’d change your mind.

Does it assure you that everyone will abide by the rules???  No. There will always be people that break the rules and there will always be bad neighbors in need of tall fences. With a Bill of Assurance you stand a better chance of living next door to like minded people.

Who enforces the Bill of Assurance?  In the earlier phases of construction the developer will enforce the rules.  Once the development is turned over to the owners, it is up to the owners to enforce the rules.  They can do this through a property association and sometimes have to resort to hiring an attorney.

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