A homeowner’s association (HOA) is an organization that is designed to manage common areas, provide services to residents, protect property values, and develop a sense of community. HOAs are incredibly popular in Florida, with more than 9.6 million Floridians living in one of nearly 48,000 properties managed by an HOA.
While there are a lot of potential benefits associated with HOAs, they can also create problems. HOAs are run by boards of directors that are made up of and elected by neighborhood residents. This situation can create the potential for abuse when petty neighborhood squabbles go to the board – or even issues like embezzlement or missing funds.
At the Lopez Law Group, we have deep experience with homeowner’s associations – and the Florida laws that apply to them. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly by your HOA or that something isn’t quite right with how your HOA is being run, we can help. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with an HOA dispute attorney in Florida.
Options for Resolving HOA Issues in Florida
Homeowner’s association disputes can arise over almost anything. HOAs often oversee many aspects of a community, from landscaping and parking to trash management, design changes, and the ability to rent your home. You become subject to an HOA’s bylaws when you purchase a property in the community – even if you haven’t read or don’t fully understand the regulations.
Although there are benefits to HOAs, there are drawbacks. This is particularly true because HOAs are often not managed by professionals. Instead, the boards are composed of fellow community residents. While that can be an advantage – given that other property owners are invested in the area – it may also mean that a number of issues can crop up over time.
As skilled Florida HOA lawyers, we have handled disputes related to:
- Failure to properly maintain common areas
- HOA harassment
- Selective enforcement or unequal treatment
- Common area disputes
- Covenant violations
For example, consider a situation where the president of an HOA is homophobic. A gay couple moves into the neighborhood, and the president sends them a warning and then fines them a gay pride flag outside of their house. While there is a restriction on hanging flags, many other homes in the neighborhood have flags hanging outside of their homes that have not been flagged. This situation may be an example of selective enforcement or HOA abuse.
There are other issues that may arise with an HOA, such as missing funds. Property owners in an HOA pay certain fees in accordance with HOA rules. If this money is used by board members inappropriately – such as for an expensive dinner for board members or an improvement that only benefits board members – then it could be an example of HOA misuse of funds.
If you suspect HOA abuse, misusing funds, or another issue, there are options to resolve the issue. Generally, you will need to consult your HOA bylaws to determine what these options are. You may be required to submit a complaint to the HOA before you can proceed to the next step, which is often a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as arbitration or mediation.
Under most HOA bylaws, property owners cannot immediately sue the association. There is typically a process that must be followed. It is only after attempts to resolve the dispute outside of the courtroom have failed that you may be able to file a lawsuit against the HOA. A seasoned Florida HOA dispute attorney can help you review your association’s bylaws and advise you on the appropriate course of action.
Why It’s Important to Work with an Experienced Florida HOA Attorney
Homeowners associations in Florida are governed by both Florida law and the rules and regulations set forth in their governing documents. These statutes and bylaws can be complicated and difficult to parse. There also may be different rules based on whether you own a single-family home in an HOA community or a condominium.
An HOA dispute lawyer in Florida may represent a homeowner’s association or individual residents. They are well-versed in Florida law on HOAs, and how this law applies to your specific situation. They also have the ability to carefully examine the HOA bylaws to determine which rules apply to the situation – including how you can resolve a dispute.
An attorney is particularly important in HOA disputes where the parties involved often know each other. When you handle the matter through legal representation – as opposed to walking down the street to knock on the board president’s door when you’re angry about what you perceive to be HOA abuse – you are more likely to resolve the matter in a productive way. An HOA dispute lawyer will evaluate the situation, advise you of your legal rights, and help you decide how to proceed.
The Lopez Law Group is skilled in all aspects of HOA law. We will work with you to ensure that you get the legal advice necessary to protect your interests – and to ensure that both you and your community as a whole are being served appropriately by the HOA.
HOA Dispute? We Can Help.
Having any sort of disagreement with your HOA can be particularly unpleasant, given that you may have to see the main players involved on a regular basis. Whether you believe that the HOA is acting in an abusive manner or that it is misusing HOA funds, our law firm can help. We advocate for property owners to help them protect their interests and resolve their HOA disputes properly.
Based in St. Petersburg, the Lopez Law Group represents homeowners throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, Polk, and Pasco Counties. We will work with you to help you resolve the dispute in the most effective and cost-effective way possible. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Florida HOA dispute attorney, give us a call at 727-933-0015 or fill out our online contact form.