As Homeowners Associations increase in Florida, there is the chance that you might need representation in a case involving Florida Homeowners Association Law. Communities that we live in hopefully provide the harmony that we seek in a neighborhood. Most individuals and families who live within various housing developments, such as subdivisions or condominiums, often live in such communities with a homeowners association. Generally, homeowners association board members are residents of such housing developments. Whether you are homeowner within a housing development or the board of the homeowners association (HOA), it is highly recommended that you have a skilled Homeowner Association Attorney at your side.
More HOAs Raise the Need for Qualified Lawyers to Handle Florida Homeowners Association Law
Disputes between residents and the homeowners association can cause difficult situations, particularly when Florida Homeowners Association Lawyers are not consulted. In order to focus on your duties as a board member of a homeowners association or to get the necessary advice regarding disputed rules within your HOA, one of your first steps should be securing the assistance of a Florida Homeowners Association Lawyer. No one resident possesses the depth of knowledge required to ensure that legal disputes are dealt with in an efficient and effective manner. Therefore, Florida HOA Attorneys can be the number one resource to ensure smooth compliance within the homeowners association, and to provide adequate support during times of necessary enforcement.
About Homeowners Associations
Homeowners associations are established to enforce rules and regulations drafted at the beginning of a housing development by a developer. Over time, they have become extremely common. Generally, individuals and families are interested in moving into certain housing developments because a homeowners association has certain guidelines that ensure the neighborhood will be maintained a certain way. Homeowners associations help manage neighborhoods. They consist of a board of directors. Usually, the members of the board, who live within the community, are chosen by the members/residents of the HOA because the members/residents believe that these individuals are best able to take care of the maintenance of the neighborhood. This can include the enforcement of the rules and regulations such as: collecting HOA dues, or hiring qualified personnel to maintain the roads, landscaping, or other common areas.
A homeowners association (HOA) is a governing body, technically-speaking – a Florida corporation, which governs the operation of a housing community. Generally speaking, when a buyer purchases real estate that is under the jurisdiction of a HOA, they are automatically a member of that homeowners association. Members of a homeowners association usually pay annual fees to the HOA and must obey the rules and regulations set forth in the declaration. A declaration, which consists of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, is created by the developer of a housing community. This declaration, also known as a declaration of covenants, is recorded, and thus made available in public records.
Rules & Regulations: The Backbone of HOAs
Rules and regulations of the declaration incorporated by a developer at the beginning of a housing development are considered to “run with the land.” Therefore, a Buyer is subject to the rules and regulations of the HOA, whether or not they were specifically made aware of these rules and regulations by a Seller. There are numerous rules and regulations that are set forth in a declaration. These rules should be obeyed by present and future property owners within the development. The rules detail multiple facets of living within the community. Commonly, these rules delineate what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to appearance, i.e. “curb appeal.” This includes what color a house can be painted, pools, lawn care, fences, etc. A significant purpose behind homeowners associations is to ensure that property owners are living in a community of like-minded individuals, when it comes to management of their property. Homeowners associations help communities with the maintenance of property, ensuring the upkeep of appearance and value, as well as safety.
Standards of Quality of Living
Another common reason for the existence of homeowners associations, besides enforcement of specific rules that enhance and maintain the aesthetics of condominium or subdivision, are the rules that deal with the behavior of a member and use of the home. Noise disturbances and business use of the residence are some clear example of HOA issues that are on the rise. Recently, many issues have occurred that deal with the use of renting out houses or condominiums to guests for both short and long-term stays.
Many individuals have decided to rent out their houses or condominiums to guests via airbnb.com, which is an online marketplace enabling homeowners to list and rent their property out as a vacation home. This surge has caused quite a stir in many communities, both for the individuals who believe that they have the right to rent out their house or condominium to whomever they please, and for neighbors who dislike the idea. Some covenants within HOA declarations specifically address this issue, and some do not. Retaining a Florida Homeowner Association Lawyer can help address such issues and more.
Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes pertains to homeowners associations. The purpose of said statute is to provide a source of statutory procedures for operating homeowners associations, give the requisite statutory recognition to homeowners associations, and provide the legal means necessary, “… to protect the rights of association members without unduly impairing the ability of such associations to perform their functions.”
Florida Statute 720.302 (2016). Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes states the powers and duties of homeowners associations, in addition to recognizing that there may be additional duties stated in the declaration, as well as what is allowed or limited by statute. Besides detailing the fiduciary duties and maintaining common areas, a homeowners association may also need to take legal action to dispute eminent domain issues and more.
Seeking a Florida Homeowners Association Lawyer for HOA Disputes
An HOA attorney may represent an actual HOA, or a resident in dispute with a homeowners association. Some legal disputes can deal with enforcement issues. For example, perhaps there appears to be issues with selective enforcement. Selective enforcement means that a rule is enforced upon one resident, but not the other resident who is violating the exact same rule.
For instance, Resident A, who lives in a condominium, put a string of lights on their balcony, but the HOA rules specify that no lights are allowed on any balcony. Resident A is notified that they must take their string of lights. Now, Resident B, a week later, also puts up a string of lights on their balcony. However, the homeowners association board does not require Resident B to take down the lights on their balcony. This would be considered selective enforcement, and a great example of one of the ways in which Florida Condominium Lawyers may assist in Condominium Owners’ Association disputes.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are the HOA boards themselves. Sometimes members of a homeowners association board may think that a Florida Homeowners Association Law counselor is unnecessary. Of course, homeowners association board members may have all the rules and regulations before them in a document and hold monthly meetings, but that isn’t enough in order to deal with legal issues and disputes. A Florida Homeowners Association Lawyer can help a HOA concisely and legally proceed with the necessary actions needed to follow the rules and regulations of the homeowners association declaration of covenants.
There are still Florida Statutes to consider when enforcing the by-laws of an HOA, as well as a plethora of nuances that a qualified Florida Homeowners Association Lawyer can help guide you through. Wading through a jungle or swamp isn’t recommended without a local guide, so why would you try to enforce or take action against a homeowners association rule or regulation without the help of a Florida Homeowners Association Law expert?
Did you move into a neighborhood because the HOA appeared to be “on the ball?” Every resident in the neighborhood was obeying the rules and regulations. Now you find that certain neighbors can get away with rules that everyone should be following. What happens if someone refuses to obey the rules and regulations set forth in the by-laws of the homeowners association? Perhaps there is a member of your HOA who is refusing to abide by the regulations, despite the HOA board’s frequent notifications and continual efforts to make them comply. In instances such as these and more, an attorney trained in Florida Homeowners Association law will help you in numerous ways, no matter the dispute, such as enforcement.
For instance, if an individual of a subdivision refuses to maintain a lawn, a lawyer who is experienced in Florida Homeowners Association law can assist the homeowners association board with the levying of fines and other forms of legal action that may be taken. The intention of a HOA is for residents to enjoy a peaceful, harmonious environment, which is why there is no reason that a community with an active HOA should not be harmonious. Greatly reduce the confusion and misunderstanding between the board of directors and members of homeowners associations with the assistance of a qualified attorney. At the law firm of Bret Jones, you will find an attorney who is intimately familiar with Florida Homeowners Association law and has practiced it successfully for years. Please contact us today by using the form on the right or by phone at 352-227-1208.
Homeowners Association Law – HG.org