Are Florida HOA fines legitimate?

Have you received a violation notice from your HOA that threatens a fine if a stated item is not corrected?

If said violation is not corrected by (time specified) you will incur a fine of $XX.XX per day up to $1,000 per violation. Is this fine legitimate? Yes, no, maybe, perhaps, etc. The fining process for Florida owners of lots, parcels and homes in Florida Subdivisions and Mobile Home Parks (where the parcel is owned) is a child of contract rights, Florida Not for Profit corporations, various Florida Statutes and the Governing Documents of your mandatory membership in a Florida Homeowner’ Association.

Who enforces the implementation of fines? The State of Florida gives the authority to fine, to the associations, and without recourse to any oversight by a State Agency. The Florida Legislature dumped the enforcement on the Courts.

720.302 Purposes, scope, and application. —

(1) The purposes of this chapter are to give statutory recognition to corporations not for profit that operate residential communities in this state, to provide procedures for operating homeowners’ associations, and to protect the rights of association members without unduly impairing the ability of such associations to perform their functions.

(2) The Legislature recognizes that it is not in the best interest of homeowners’ associations or the individual association members thereof to create or impose a bureau or other agency of state government to regulate the affairs of homeowners’ associations.

The Attorneys in this industry seem to agree that the only way to solve HOA violation problems is through the Court System. The most impractical way to solve all but the most egregious of problems. There is a grass roots movement that HOAs do not have the right to fine, under the US Constitution and/or the State Constitution.

Some thoughts for your consideration:

  • The fine notice should include -specifically- the section of the Governing Documents that are violated, not some ambiguous notice, i.e., keep your lawn in better shape, repaint your home, trim your hedges, brown grass in the swale. The owner being cited for a violation of the Governing Documents has the right to specificity of violation. After all the final authority, as to legitimacy, is the court system. If it is not specified in the documents, what has been violated? The managers view, some board member’s view, or a subjective committee member’s view?
  • If you have received a violation notice, attend to it within the time stated! The changes in the statutes now allows your board of directors to set the fine with one single notice, without any further notice at a duly noticed board meeting. Bulk fining is the norm. The board is not required to hear from the owners.
  • Once the board levy’s the fine, a minimum of a 14-day notice is sent to the “violator”, to appear before a fining committee, to review the fine imposed by the board. The committee is restricted to vote, after hearing testimony from the owner, to uphold the fine or deny the fine. Not to modify, forgive or increase the fine. If the owner fails to appear before the committee, the fine is usually imposed, although the committee still has the authority to deny the fine. Only a yes or no decision is legal.
  • The irony of the NO vote is it may go back to the board for amendment of the violation notice. The other irony is the Board appoints the hearing committee.
  • If the fine is not paid and the collection process is started, the owner may incur considerable add on fees to the fine and Florida law states “In any action to recover a fine, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs from the nonprevailing party as determined by the court”.
  • If the fine is $1,000 or more, it is considered an assessment and a lien may be placed on your home and may result in a foreclosure action on your home.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Chapel Trail as the fines total in excess of $150,000 on the books.

 

Thousands of dollars can be saved for Chapel Trail Owners.

Governing Documents consist of deed restrictions and rules for owners, renters and guests living under the HOA, Chapel Trail Master Association. What violations need to be cited or violated and what does not! What board members should know and what attorneys should know. This is in the CTOA Documents.

Q. What are the Governing Documents of CTOA?
A. “Chapel Trail Documents” mean in the aggregate the Declaration, any Supplement(s), any Plat(s), all replats thereof, any Neighborhood Covenants, these Articles and the Bylaws, the Rules and all of the instruments and documents referred to therein or referred to herein, including, but not limited to, amendments to any of the foregoing, as applicable.

Q. What is the responsibility of the master association?
A. To enforce by legal means the obligations of the Members and the provisions of the Chapel Trail Documents.

Who is a member of CTOA? Here is the kicker and problem with CTOA issuing violations! Owners are not Members! Members are the 17 Neighborhoods. Want to save thousands of dollars in assessments? Just have the members (Neighborhoods) pay the master assessment. That would be a hefty savings to the owners. Just like the hefty savings of the bulk agreement. Isn’t that 50% or so of the going rate?

All management would have to do is collect and deposit 17 checks either monthly or quarterly. That cuts accounting fees, collection fees, attorney fees to almost zero dollars, not to mention several other high dollar fees. The local Neighborhoods already have the same processes in place, as the Master Association, to collect assessments.

Your home is at risk with the new Chapel Trail fining process.

There is confusion in the ranks.

Some of the CTOA Board Members think the implementation of the new “all or nothing” fining process is fair and workable. Perhaps the thought is good intentions for the community but mostly it is a naive process.

With 40 – $1,000 fines sent out in the first month we shall soon hear about it from homeowners. If you live in Chapel Trail it is important that you log into your account and check both violations and account payments at the official Chapel Trail Web Site. The process is also in the Documents Section.

Missed $150 HOA payment has family fighting for home