By Amy Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When you buy a condo or buy into a development, you think you’re free to decorate your place as you choose. But with approximately 250,000 homeowner and condo associations nationwide, you might be surprised by restrictions on your choices.

A Portsmouth, New Hampshire woman is fighting a $13,800 lawsuit filed by her condo association, because she had the nerve to plant an 8-by-5-foot garden of lilies, tulips and daisies, which the condo board said is in conflict with community standards.

So much for live free or die.

But covenants, conditions & restrictions (the CC&R’s) dictated by a homeowner’s association contain rules on everything from the color you can paint your house to how your property has to look. And those associations often have powers so broad they can actually fine you or even foreclose on your property for failure to pay your homeowner’s dues. Best advice – ask BEFORE you buy whether or not you’d be subject to a homeowners association and ask to see the CC&R’s before you plunk down your money and set down your roots.

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