Homeowners Association Background Checks Cause Problems for Relocated Military Families

By Michael Klazema on 5/14/2015

Usually, when a military serviceman or woman is relocated to a new area, his or her family has a grace period of 10 days to get their affairs in order, pack their belongings, and move. According to a recent article in the Miami Herald, though, the quick nature of military relocations can cause problems for families when it comes to finding a new place. And it's not that these families can't find homes. Rather, it's that background checks run by many homeowners' associations, specifically the one in Florida's Miami-Dade county, can take much longer than the typical 10-day military relocation period.

The Miami Herald article discusses a military family that was required to locate to the Miami-Dade area late last year, when the father and husband was assigned to a station at the nearby Homestead Air Reserve Base. As is the case with the average military family, the family was familiar with the process for relocation, and had learned over the years to make the most of that 10-day grace period. As it turned out though, those 10 days were not enough for the family to find a home in the Miami-Dade area, simply because they couldn't get approved by homeowners' associations to buy a house or move into a new neighborhood.

The issue had nothing to do with the family being unsavory or untrustworthy. Instead, the problem was that local homeowners' associations required background checks for every new family moving into a neighborhood, and those checks took up to 30 days to process. As a result, this particular military family was unable to get approved to buy a house near where the husband was stationed, and ended up having to live in a hotel instead.

This is a classic case of background check turn around times taking too long. Screenings are no doubt important for situations like this, where homeowners' associations are just taking the necessary precautions to keep their neighborhoods safe. Still, 30 days is an unreasonable amount of time to wait for background check to process, and begs the question of what is taking these homeowners associations so long to approve or deny new residents. Are they running background checks through a federal database that has a backlog problem? Are they not being vigilant about getting background checks done immediately? Or are they using firms that make turn around times not a priority?

Whatever the issue, it seems that the background check providers being used by some of these homeowners' associations need to be reviewed or revamped to provide for a more expedited process. After all, month-long background checks would cause issues for the average homebuyer, not just for military families on a tight schedule. At least one homeowners' association interviewed by the Miami Herald said that their background checks process in just two to three days, so it makes little sense that other associations take 30 days to process applications.

The good news is that this particular story has a happy ending. According to the Miami Herald article, the military family ended up getting into a house after the Military Affairs Committee of the South Dade Chamber of Commerce stepped in on their behalf. As the Chamber of Commerce explained to local homeowners' associations, military personnel have already gone through and cleared very extensive background checks through the United States Government.


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