In Florida, certain planned communities are governed by a homeowners association (HOA). Their powers and responsibilities vary based on the property type and governing documents.
Who Regulates HOAs in Florida?
In Florida, HOAs are regulated by theFlorida Homeowners Association Actfound in Title 40 Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes. This act applies to all corporations responsible for community areas and membership is made up of parcel owners or their agents.
HOAs traditionally have documents that regulate themselves. Every HOA is different, however, the governing documents typically include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and other rules.
HOAs in Florida may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:
The documents governing an HOA arenotavailable to the public in Florida. HOA governing documents are only available upon request by members and must be recorded in the official records of the county to be enforced.
HOA records filed with the Florida Secretary of State are accessible to anyoneonlineand include the creation of an HOA, annual reports, financial statements, and dissolution of an HOA.
HOA Powers in Florida
In Florida, an HOA has the power to:
Regulate common areas
Collect charges to maintain and operate the common areas
Collect payments for common assessments
Levy reasonable fines
Foreclose on a house for unpaid liens
Additionally, HOA governing documents can grant further powers such as restrictions on membership, exterior paint colors, fencing, and parking requirements.
Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Florida?
In Florida, HOAscanimpose fines on a homeowner for violating its rules. Charges can be added due to late payment of assessments and other late fees.
Before a fine can be imposed, HOAs must give homeowners notice of at least 14 days and an opportunity to be heard. Fines cannot be more than $100 per violation and cannot exceed a total of $1,000 unless otherwise stated in the governing documents.
An HOAcannotfine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit)anyof the following:
Displaying the American flag, State of Florida flag, or any military branch flag so long as the flag is displayed in a manner consistent with federal flag display law
Incorporating water conversion, quality protection, and restoration measures
Incorporating “Florida-friendly landscaping”
Installing a flagpole for the display of the American flag, the State of Florida flag, or any military branch flag
Installing satellite dishes and antennas
Installing renewable energy devices
The governing documents of an HOA may include reasonable rules and regulations about the placement, manner, and display of any of the items listed above.
Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in Florida?
In Florida, an HOAhasthe power to foreclose on a home within its community. The process includes an HOA placing a lien on a property when the owner neglects to pay their dues. If a lien goes unresolved, the HOA can foreclose on the house.
Before bringing an action for foreclosure, the HOA must provide a 45 day written notice or demand of the total amount due. If the amount is still not paid after this time, the foreclosure process can begin.
Evicting homeowners isnotwithin the power of the HOA. However, if the homeowner is leasing a tenant, the HOAcanevict the tenant for unpaid HOA fees and place a lien on the property. In addition, the HOA may have other powers regarding rental properties in its governing documents.
Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in Florida?
In Florida, there isnoprovision that allows an HOA to enter a homeowner’s property. The governing documents will most likely contain provisions for HOAs entering a homeowner’s property as reasonably necessary to maintain units, common elements, or shared utilities.
Units are private spaces only intended for the property owner’s use but have certain spaces that require maintenance by the HOA, such as balconies. Common elements are the shared spaces around the units owned by the HOA, such as elevators. Shared utilities may include water or trash removal directly provided by the HOA.
Except in the case of an emergency, the HOA must generally give prior notice before entering the property. Usually, an HOA will give 1-2 weeks’ notice, but the timeline of the notice is ultimately determined by the governing documents.
Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Florida?
The venue for filing a Complaint against an HOA in Florida depends on the complaint.
Otherwise, a homeowner with any other complaints can bring a claim instatecourt in the appropriate county.
Joining and Leaving an HOA in Florida
In Florida, if a person purchases a home in a neighborhood with a preexisting HOA, they are required to join and abide by the HOA rules. The homeowner should be presented with a disclosure summary explaining HOA membership and rules at the closing of the home purchase.
To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the HOA to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.
How to Dissolve an HOA in Florida
The dissolution process of an HOA in Florida may be found in the HOA’s governing documents. If not listed, a majority vote by members of the HOA at a meeting is required to move forward with the dissolution.
If enough votes for dissolution are tallied, the HOA must file theArticles of Dissolutionwith the Florida Secretary of State. The HOA is considered dissolved upon the effective date listed in the Articles of Dissolution. Subsequently, the HOA must dispose of any assets or debts belonging to them.
… the association must be incorporated and the initial governing documents must be recorded in the official records of the county in which the community is located… (5) INSPECTION AND COPYING OF RECORDS.–The official records shall be maintained within the state and must be open to inspection and available for photocopying by members or their authorized agents at reasonable times and places within 10 business days after receipt of a written request for access…
… After control of the association is obtained by members other than the developer, the association may institute, maintain, settle, or appeal actions or hearings in its name on behalf of all members concerning matters of common interest to the members, including, but not limited to, the common areas; roof or structural components of a building, or other improvements for which the association is responsible; mechanical, electrical, or plumbing elements serving an improvement or building for which the association is responsible…
(c) This subsection applies to all community development districts and homeowners’ associations, regardless of whether such homeowners’ associations are authorized to impose assessments that may become a lien on the parcel.
(1) When authorized by the governing documents, the association has a lien on each parcel to secure the payment of assessments and other amounts provided for by this section… (c) The association may bring an action in its name to foreclose a lien for assessments in the same manner in which a mortgage of real property is foreclosed and may also bring an action to recover a money judgment for the unpaid assessments without waiving any claim of lien. The association is entitled to recover its reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in an action to foreclose a lien or an action to recover a money judgment for unpaid assessments.
(2) If the governing documents so provide, an association… may levy reasonable fines, not to exceed $100 per violation, against any member or any tenant, guest, or invitee. A fine may be levied on the basis of each day of a continuing violation, with a single notice and opportunity for hearing, except that no such fine shall exceed $1,000 in the aggregate unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine shall not become a lien against a parcel. In any action to recover a fine, the prevailing party is entitled to collect its reasonable attorney’s fees and costs from the nonprevailing party as determined by the court… (a) A fine or suspension may not be imposed without notice of at least 14 days to the person sought to be fined or suspended and an opportunity for a hearing before a committee…
Such clauses are declared null and void as against the public policy of this state… (3) Homeowners’ association documents… may not preclude the display of one portable, removable United States flag by property owners… The Legislature finds that the use of Florida-friendly landscaping and other water use and pollution prevention measures to conserve or protect the state’s water resources serves a compelling public interest and that the participation of homeowners’ associations and local governments is essential to the state’s efforts in water conservation and water quality protection and restoration. (b) Homeowners’ association documents, including declarations of covenants, articles of incorporation, or bylaws, may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping, as defined in s. 373.185, on his or her land or create any requirement or limitation…
(2)(a) Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association.
Enforceable placement preferences must be clearly articulated in writing and made available to all residents of the community in question. A requirement that an antenna be located where reception or transmission would be impossible or substantially degraded is prohibited by the rule… A valid enforceable placement preference should not contain prohibited provisions such as prior approval or require professional installation… when an antenna is professionally installed, the installer often determines the location of the antenna at the time of installation based upon the type of antenna installed and the ability of the antenna to receive an acceptable quality signal.
(1) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter or other provision of general or special law, the adoption of an ordinance by a governing body, as those terms are defined in this chapter, which prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the installation of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources is expressly prohibited. (2) A deed restriction, covenant, declaration, or similar binding agreement may not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources from being installed on buildings erected on the lots or parcels covered by the deed restriction, covenant, declaration, or binding agreement.
(4) A homeowners’ association may not file a record of lien against a parcel for unpaid assessments unless a written notice or demand for past due assessments as well as any other amounts owed to the association pursuant to its governing documents has been made by the association. The written notice or demand must: (a) Provide the owner with 45 days following the date the notice is deposited in the mail to make payment for all amounts due, including, but not limited to, any attorney’s fees and actual costs associated with the preparation and delivery of the written demand.
(d) If the parcel owner remains in possession of the parcel after a foreclosure judgment has been entered, the court may require the parcel owner to pay a reasonable rent for the parcel. If the parcel is rented or leased during the pendency of the foreclosure action, the association is entitled to the appointment of a receiver to collect the rent. The expenses of the receiver must be paid by the party who does not prevail in the foreclosure action.
(1)(a) A prospective parcel owner in a community must be presented a disclosure summary before executing the contract for sale. The disclosure summary must be in a form substantially similar to the following form: “DISCLOSURE SUMMARY FOR (NAME OF COMMUNITY) 1. AS A PURCHASER OF PROPERTY IN THIS COMMUNITY, YOU WILL BE OBLIGATED TO BE A MEMBER OF A HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION.”
(1) At any time after dissolution is authorized, the corporation may dissolve by delivering to the Department of State for filing articles of dissolution setting forth: (a) The name of the corporation; (b) If the corporation has members entitled to vote on dissolution, the date of the meeting of members at which the resolution to dissolve was adopted, a statement that the number of votes cast for dissolution was sufficient for approval, or a statement that such a resolution was adopted by written consent… (2) A corporation is dissolved upon the effective date of its articles of dissolution.
(1) A dissolved corporation continues its corporate existence but may not conduct its affairs except to the extent appropriate to wind up and liquidate its affairs, including: (a) Collecting its assets; (b) Disposing of its properties that will not be distributed in kind pursuant to the plan of distribution of assets adopted under s. 617.1406; (c) Discharging or making provision for discharging its liabilities; (d) Distributing its remaining property in accordance with the plan of distribution of assets adopted under s. 617.1406; and (e) Doing every other act necessary to wind up and liquidate its affairs.