Skilled Legal Support for Discrimination and Harassment by an HOA
Serving You and The State of Florida
Skilled Legal Support for Discrimination and Harassment by an HOA
Florida HOA laws are some of the most complex in the nation. Your community could be protected and guided by rules laid out by the Florida Homeowners Association, The Condominium Act, or the Cooperative Act. No matter which set of rules your HOA is governed by, that HOA will need to provide all residents in the community with fair and ethical treatment.
If you have been discriminated against or have been harassed by the HOA in the neighborhood where you live, you need to secure skilled legal representation right away. HOAs are not placed in charge of communities to bully property owners into doing things that they arbitrarily determine are right. If your HOA is acting outside of the boundaries of the laws that govern these groups, legal representation will be necessary to address the issue.
The team at Lopez Law Group has years of experience in HOA law. You can count on your lawyer to help defend your rights and to help you to hold the HOA accountable for discriminatory or harassing acts of various kinds.
What Kinds of Actions Are HOAs Not Allowed to Take?
HOAs in Florida have come under scrutiny recently in an effort to address some long-standing problems that were not expressly forbidden under HOA law. HOAs are not permitted to take any actions against community residents that violate Florida’s Fair Housing Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, or the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. These laws all deal with discriminatory practices in housing sales and management and state that no one can be discriminated against due to their age, sex, race, skin color, religion, pregnancy, national origin, handicap, or marital status. HOAs cannot make any of the following decisions under these guidelines:
- Refuse to sell or rent to someone
- Falsely deny someone housing due to an inspection or a lack of availability of a property that is not actually unavailable
- Refuse to make a mortgage or housing loan
- Impose conditions that are not impacting others in the same neighborhood
- Threaten, coerce, or intimidates anyone who is looking to secure housing or to exercise their rights as a property owner within the community
- Refuse to make changes to a property to meet the needs of a disability
These same guidelines impact those selling homes, those renting, and those managing properties as well. HOAs occupy a unique space in the housing world because they are charged with the maintenance of neighborhood common areas and the appearance of the community, but can also be given the power to compel people to make changes to their property. While the HOA is not the property owner, these groups do have some limited power over the actions that homeowners can take in an HOA-managed community.
Common problems in HOA-managed neighborhoods in Florida related to HOAs taking actions that are not legally provided to them within their charter or their bylaws. These actions might be actively harassing a homeowner to resolve a stated issue with the property before the end of the allotted time period they were given to rectify the issue. Some homeowners have been forbidden to fly a flag they want to display or have been told that they cannot have a service or comfort animal.
HOAs are also out of compliance with the law when they refuse to build accommodations for those who require them. In some cases, fines have been leveled against property owners that are not provided for within the HOA’s charter.
The problems in the HOA management reality in Florida were mainly linked with older HOAs which were not willing to conform to changing HOA standards and laws. These were communities that were often discriminatory to their member, and there were significant problems related to race that was actually built into the guidelines of these communities.
New Laws Will Improve HOA Guidelines and Practices
In 2020, Senate Bill No. 374 went into effect, which allowed Florida to create Fla. Stat. § 712.065. This new statute forbids HOAs from engaging in discriminatory practices and states that discriminatory actions are not enforceable via state law. This statute bolsters the civil rights laws that are already on the books and makes the violation of these standards a much more serious action on the part of any HOA or property management group.
The new law seeks to give community residents and property owners the right to defend themselves against an HOA that is behaving in a way that is illegal. This new set of strictures and rules is intended to clean up and improve the behavior of community management and HOA entities which have made it impossible for people to seek housing in certain communities for years.
Will the New Laws Create Immediate Change?
The goal of the new laws that were created was to allow homeowners and community residents to fight for their rights. Certainly, the passing of these laws was done with the goal of HOAs and other property management groups to rewrite their own bylaws to remove discriminatory language that should never have been included. However, the reality is that many HOAs and property management boards are still acting outside the scope of their legal power when managing their community.
It is still quite common for HOAs to attempt to enforce illegal racial quotas, and limiting property owners from expressing their own views via flags and other decorations continues to be a problem in older HOA-managed communities across Florida. Further problems continue to plague those with disabilities who are promised the right to access to a home and cannot secure it due to roadblocks put up by HOAs.
If you have experienced any of the discriminatory practices that have been discussed, you will need to seek legal representation. The team at Lopez Law Group is very familiar with the new legal guidelines for HOA behavior and has the experience that you need to tap into in order to secure a favorable outcome in your discrimination case. Everyone in the state of Florida should be allowed the chance to live in peace and to seek housing that is safe and governed by fair laws. If you have been denied this right by an HOA acting outside of its legal rights, you can exercise your rights and secure legal representation to fight the HOA’s actions.
Are There Legal Reasons That an HOA Can Deny Someone Housing?
There are some legal reasons that HOAs can deny housing to someone or can take action against a current homeowner. The goal of the HOA-managed neighborhood is to maintain a clean and safe neighborhood and to make sure that everyone who is living in the neighborhood will maintain the guidelines that are set out in the bylaws. The screening process and the process to take action against a homeowner who is in violation of the HOA agreement must be fully transparent at all times and must follow state and federal guidelines in every way. These are the allowable reasons that an HOA can take action against a homeowner or can deny someone the right to rent:
- Violation of the rules that are contained in the HOA bylaws.
- Past history of rule violations in other neighborhoods or issues with the law in prior living arrangements or HOA-managed neighborhoods.
- Misrepresentation of the potential renter or buyer’s criminal history or financial situation.
- Buyer or renter who has applied to live in the community has been convicted of a felony for violent crimes or has taken actions in the past that led to crimes being committed on their property.
- Buyer or renter’s civil rights have not been restored.
The screening process will need to be outlined in detail in the HOA guidelines and bylaws, and every action taken by the HOA with regard to screening or leveling warnings and fines must follow these bylaws. When an HOA acts against a homeowner or someone applying to live in the community in a way that is not allowed within the bylaws of the HOA agreement, legal action can be taken by the potential renter or the homeowner.
While these associations do have the right to deny applicants and buyers, they cannot act outside the scope of the law when denying these applicants, and they cannot violate the civil rights of any homeowner when taking action against them for property neglect or other potential concerns. HOAs also cannot advance the level of action that is being taken against a current property owner or renter just to try and force them to move out or to take action sooner. The various processes that are laid out in the HOA bylaws to handle issues with the property must be followed in each case properly for them to be legal and enforceable.
All HOAs must be able to produce documentation that explains their legal rights to take the actions in question. This is an essential part of the contract between parties involved in an HOA community, and if the HOA or governing body cannot produce some form of proof that their actions are justified, they cannot take those actions. This is one of the situations where the Lopez Law Group can provide the best support for your HOA discrimination case. When there are no documented bylaws or guidelines that allow for the HOA to take action, they need to be held accountable for breaking the HOA contract and taking this action against you. Our team of skilled lawyers will work hard to make sure that you are not impacted by discriminatory practices and actions in an HOA-managed community.
Can I Sue My HOA?
In situations where the HOA that governs your neighborhood or has screened you and denied you the option to move into a community unlawfully, you can take action against the HOA. Suing an HOA can be a complex process since there are many civil and federal laws involved in these cases, and you will want to be sure that you seek a skilled lawyer to represent your case. Discrimination and prejudice that can impact the HOA governance process is a serious offense and your lawyer can help to ensure that you are not left without a place to live or continuously discriminated against.
You deserve the right to live in a place where the rules are maintained properly and fairly, and Lopez Law can help you to protect your right to live peacefully in this way. If you have struggled to get accommodations for a disability or you have been treated with prejudice in your HOA community, you will need to be certain that you do not accept this unlawful or illegal action lying down. The team at Lopez Law Group can help you to sue your HOA and to secure the changes necessary to make sure that the HOA is compliant with the law.
HOA Governance Must be Done Lawfully in the State of Florida
As HOA discrimination cases are getting more attention than ever, you might have realized that you have been the victim of discriminatory acts in your HOA-managed community. You do not have to accept this kind of treatment, and the team at Lopez Law Group can help you to secure a resolution to your HOA discrimination case. There have been historic problems within HOA-managed communities in Florida for years, and the new laws that have been put in place were created to help to resolve these issues all across the state of Florida.
Discriminatory and harassing treatment should never be leveled against anyone who is attempting to secure housing or who is already living in an HOA-managed community. The bylaws and guidelines that HOAs are provided allow for the fair and equitable treatment of everyone within the community and of everyone applying to join it. If you have been the victim of harassment or prejudice due to your HOA, you need to reach out to Lopez Law Group today. We will schedule a consultation with you and get right to work, helping you to secure a resolution to your HOA’s unfair and illegal behavior.
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