An HOA, or homeowners association, governs and enforces rules and regulations for “common interest developments” (CIDs). On occasion, Florida HOA Attorneys are needed to address HOA issues. Some of these rules and regulations may include a height restriction for buildings or fences, the types of pets allowed to own, shingle and siding exterior paint colors, shrubs, and hedge heights, even the types of mailboxes allowed.
In many cases, HOAs are able to determine to a great extent what homeowners can and cannot do both to and around their homes. Many people may look at this list and feel that with an HOA they will not be able to live freely in their own home. Others appreciate having an HOA around to keep their neighborhood uniform, organized, and safe.
When living in a neighborhood with an HOA, homeowners must often pay monthly or yearly HOA fees. These fees are used to pay for improvements to the common spaces such as pools, clubhouses, and the landscaping of the neighborhood entrance and other common spaces. With so many rules and regulations, and the fact that fees must be paid, HOAs often run into residents of the neighborhood who refuse to follow a rule or regulation or refuse to pay their HOA fees. It is because of issues such as these that Florida HOA attorneys are very busy people.
Newly Built Neighborhoods and HOAs
If you are moving into a newly built neighborhood or one where construction is ongoing, the neighborhood’s developer will determine whether you pay HOA fees or not. Oftentimes the developer will help to create the HOA to get it started. Once a certain number of homes are sold, they will give their governing power to the new homeowners. The creation of the HOA governing documents will be overseen by homeowner association lawyers. These lawyers, or Florida HOA attorneys, will make sure the rules and regulations are reasonable and are in congruence with the local, state, and federal laws.
For those moving into a newly constructed neighborhood, you have a unique opportunity. You can help shape your community plan. Without there being any governing documents prior to you moving into your neighborhood, you can help shape them, as well as come up with the rules and regulations of the HOA. You can also help shape the community’s general plan through voicing your opinion on housing style, colors, design, public buildings and environmental elements such as a nature preserve. This also extends to recreation areas such as playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc. This is a very unique privilege that most people don’t get because most people move into already established neighborhoods with already established HOAs.
How Do I start an HOA in an Already Established Neighborhood?
Starting an HOA can take a lot of time, and may take some money. In order to start a governing body for your neighborhood, you should first think of why you want to establish an HOA. Some questions you should ask are: what sort of things will those elected to serve on the HOA board regulate, and what will the HOA dues cover? Once these questions are answered, and the majority of the neighbors are in favor of starting an HOA, you should contact a homeowners association attorney who will be able to assist you with writing the governing documents. In Florida, there are plenty of neighborhoods with HOAs, so Florida HOA attorneys are very familiar with what regulations are reasonable and which are not.
Unlike the HOAs of new construction neighborhoods, new HOAs of established neighborhoods don’t have to power to change the neighborhood’s design because everything is already constructed. Although this advantage is not available to those of established neighborhoods, there is still an advantage in being one of those that help to start an HOA. By being one of the neighbors that starts the HOA, you can ensure that the governing documents are written in a way that best suits your wants and needs. Plus, you will have a say in which Florida HOA attorneys to consider hiring.
What Happens If a Dispute Arises with my HOA?
If you live in an HOA governed neighborhood long enough, you will either witness a dispute between a neighbor and the HOA, or you yourself may, unfortunately, be in a dispute with your HOA. Some of these disputes arise when residents do not follow the rules and regulations of the governing documents, a resident has not paid or is behind in paying HOA dues, and sometimes a resident will dispute the HOA because they feel the HOA is not doing their job as they should.
When an HOA starts a dispute with a resident, they often find a homeowners association lawyer. Oftentimes, HOAs use the same lawyer for every dispute they encounter. That lawyer becomes familiar with the HOAs governing documents, and the people who are elected to run the HOA. This is beneficial to the HOA because the lawyer does not have to comb through the governing documents every time there is a dispute. Some disputes are easy to rectify. For example, an HOA board member may need to notify the resident who is not following the rules and regulations to initiate the proper following of said rules and regulations. Other disputes may be far more complicated and require the services of an attorney.
A homeowner may decide to sue, or dispute, their HOA if they feel the HOA is mismanaging funds or feels as if a rule or regulation is unlawful. When a resident feels as if their HOA mismanaging funds they may decide to stop paying their HOA dues, but this allows the HOA to take legal action against the resident. Other times residents will hire their own lawyer to help investigate if the funds are truly being mismanaged. Oftentimes residents with such grievances simply do not understand what all the HOA does, and is not clear as to what the HOA does with the money they collect from dues. When this is the case the HOA should show the resident, through financial statements, where exactly the money is going. If this does not suffice, then the HOA should call their Florida HOA attorney to assist.
How Do I Avoid Disputes with My HOA?
Many disputes with an HOA can be avoided by residents simply being involved. An HOA is a governing body which means it is made up of board members who are also homeowners in the neighborhood that the HOA regulates. The board members discuss the rules and regulations of the HOA’s governing documents, change them if they feel they need to change. They also keep track of the money coming in and out of the HOA and communicate with the rest of the neighborhood’s homeowners to keep them up to date with any changes. Typically, HOA board meetings are open to other residents and follow Robert’s Rules of order, which means they follow the correct procedure of how to run a business meeting so everyone’s voice is heard fairly. HOA lawyers help in conducting these meetings and help to make sure everything is being done correctly in terms of the law.
Each HOA is set up a little differently. Most allow every resident to have a say while others give all the power to the board members who are supposed to represent the rest of the homeowners. Simply attending the HOA meetings and being knowledgeable on the HOA’s regulations alone is a key step in avoiding disputes down the road. If you are able, you may want to look into even pursuing a seat on the board of directors. Either way, by staying up to date with the proceedings of the HOA meetings you will have the knowledge you need to stay in the clear of any disputes.
Where Can I Find Florida HOA Attorneys?
It cannot be debated that there are a lot of people that live in the state of Florida. Being the third-largest state in terms of population, there are a lot of homeowners, which means there are a lot of homeowners associations. Central Florida, in particular, has seen a great amount of growth within the past couple of years, and with new homes being built and new residents, there is a demand for lawyers who can help create and advise HOAs. In Clermont Florida, the Law Offices of Bret Jones P.A. Attorneys and Counselors have worked with any HOAs in the area and their expert team can assist you with your HOA needs.
Bret Jones P.A. is proud to have a devoted team of Florida HOA Attorneys with a proven track record in HOA dealings. We have helped form new HOAs and we have also advised already formed HOAs. Apart from the legal advice you would expect from Florida HOA attorneys, the lawyers at Bret Jones also help with finances by being the vessel that collects HOA dues. If you are in need of Florida HOA Attorneys you can count on, consider Bret Jones P.A today.