By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog
Today I begin a blog feature, entitled HOA C.U.R.S.E. (Consumer Unfriendly Regulatory Statute Example). My purpose is to highlight problematic statutes that are not beneficial for housing consumers. Most of us are completely unaware of the myriad of laws that govern our everyday lives.
Some people assume that if Association-Governed Residential Community regulations exist, they will protect homeowners and residents from abuse and hold community, business, and industry leaders accountable to the people. However, it has become quite common for housing industry trade groups and special interest groups to draft and then lobby heavily for legislation that serves its own interests, often not aligned with the interests of homeowners, tenants, and ordinary constituents.
It is not the quantity of laws enacted that matter, but the fair and reasonable quality of those laws.
And a law that is not enforced is nothing more than a voluntary guideline that will more than likely be ignored. I will feature examples of laws that are particularly unfriendly to the general consumer, both to make the reader aware, and to impress upon the need for amending or abolishing harmful legislation.
HOA C.U.R.S.E. No. 1: Fines and Suspensions
Let’s take a closer look at 720.305 Florida Statutes. That covers a homeowners’ association’s right to fine. (my emphasis added in bold.)
(2) The association may levy reasonable fines. A fine may not exceed $100 per violation against any member or any member’s tenant, guest, or invitee for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine may be levied by the board for each day of a continuing violation, with a single notice and opportunity for hearing, except that the fine may not exceed $1,000 in the aggregate unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine of less than $1,000 may not become a lien against a parcel. 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.
Read between the lines:
- The governing documents may allow for a fine to exceed $100 per violation
- The governing documents may allow for an aggregate fine to exceed $1,000
- A fine of less than $1000 may not become a lien — but a fine of $1000 or more can become a lien.
excerpt from 2(a)
(a) An association may suspend, for a reasonable period of time, the right of a member, or a member’s tenant, guest, or invitee, to use common areas and facilities for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association.
and 3 (3) If a member is more than 90 days delinquent in paying any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation due to the association, the association may suspend the rights of the member, or the member’s tenant, guest, or invitee, to use common areas and facilities until the fee, fine, or other monetary obligation is paid in full.
(6) The suspensions permitted by paragraph (2)(a) and subsections (3) and (4) apply to a member and, when appropriate, the member’s tenants, guests, or invitees, even if the delinquency or failure that resulted in the suspension arose from less than all of the multiple parcels owned by a member.
- So the tenant can be legally penalized for the transgressions of the landlord. (the owner-member of the Association)
- It makes no difference whether or not your lease provides for use of common facilities.
- And even if your landlord owns dozens of units/homes, but is only disputing a fine or delinquency on one of them, ALL tenants may be suspended from using the pool, exercise facilities, or other recreational amenities.