If you live in a community operated by a Homeowners Association, it is important to understand what authority an HOA has and the effect they have upon the current homeowner and/or a potential homeowner. At the Law Firm of Gary I. Handin, P.A., we understand the HOA laws and know how to successfully navigate through them.
What Is A Homeowners Association?
Before addressing the applicable laws, it’s important to understand what a Homeowners Association is. As set forth in Section 720 of the Florida Statutes, an HOA is a nonprofit corporation authorized to operate residential communities throughout the State of Florida. They are delegated with the dual purposes of protecting the rights of the homeowner association members without at the same time impairing their ability to perform their functions. Sometimes these dual purposes are at odds with each other, which can, at times, create issues for the homeowners.
Homeowner Associations are required by law to be a Florida corporation. They are also required to register online with the Department of Professional Regulation. Homeowner Associations are mandated by the Florida legislature to hold both a general meeting and an election on at least an annual basis. Either 90 days following the end of the fiscal year or annually, the association is required to either prepare a financial statement or to provide written notice to the members of the community that the report is available from them upon request, at no charge.
What Powers Do Homeowners Associations Have?
The HOA’s main function is to create and enforce rules intended to protect the value of the properties located in their community. They are also responsible for collecting association fees, which are used to maintain the communities’ common areas. Anyone who buys a home in the community is required to become a member of the HOA.
The Florida Statutes provides the board of directors for the HOA to assert assessments or contingent assessments against homeowners to pay for the homeowner’s associations insurance obligations.
Assessments assigned pursuant to an annual budget or due to a special assessment must be in the member’s proportional share of expenses. Without the owner’s approval, the HOA is also granted emergency powers to borrow and pledge association assets as collateral to fund emergency repairs to the community when they are deemed to be necessary by the board of directors.
HOAs are also granted the authority to set common rules for the homeowners in the community regarding the following potential issues:
- Color, style, and the materials used by the homeowners for their fencing
- Basketball hoops, swing sets, and playground equipment
- Parking (residents and guests)
- Home exteriors (conditions and colors)
- Pet Restrictions
Each member, including their tenants, guests, and invitees, must comply with the rules set in place by the HOA. The association may charge a fine, not to exceed one hundred dollars per incident, for a homeowner’s failure to comply with the associations’ rules, declarations, or by-laws. Should a homeowner become more than 90 days delinquent in paying a fee or a fine, the HOA is authorized to suspend the rights of that homeowner to use the community’s common areas and facilities. All assessed suspensions, however, require a majority approval vote at a properly noticed board meeting. A prospective buyer into the community must be presented with a disclosure summary from the HOA of their rules and regulations before executing a contract of sale.
In short, understanding the intrinsic rules and regulations that apply to Homeowner’s Associations can be difficult. At the Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, we’re here for you and we want to make your dealings with your Homeowners Association as stress-free and painless as possible, especially when it comes to buying and/or selling property in a community governed by an HOA.