Home owners associations across Florida could see their powers curtailed or restricted as it relates to imposing fines and liens against home owners, under legislation introduced by Sen. Victor Torres and Rep. Kristen Arrington.
Arrington, a Kissimmee Democrat, and Torres, an Orlando Democrat, are responding to complaints that certain home owners associations, particularly those where developers retain control of HOA boards, can abuse fines and liens and cause overly burdensome hardships for home owners who often find they have little recourse.
The dynamic has been a high-profile, chronic source of hostility and litigation in the burgeoning Osceola County community of Poinciana, which is in Torres’ Senate District 15 and partly in Arrington’s House District 43. Arrington, though, said there is a statewide problem, and that she has been hearing from frustrated home owners across the state.
“People are pretty upset that, during these trying times, they’re getting fines of up to $1,000 for not pressure-washing their driveway,” Arrington said.
Her House Bill 1039 would prevent unpaid HOA fines from becoming liens that could lead to properties being seized. Her House Bill 6103 would repeal the ability for associations to issue fines. Torres’ companion bills are Senate Bill 1362 and Senate Bill 1364, respectively.
Home owners association law reform bills are perennial in Legislative Sessions. Arrington said she believes this to be a new approach to addressing the fines and liens.
“If there was a quick fix, it probably would have been done a while ago,” Arrington said. “Talking to some real estate professionals and some people in associations, they recommend both of these options: either repealing the fine option, or stopping the lien option.
“These two things, I haven’t (seen) any red flags raised or had anybody say too much against them as of yet. … But these are two avenues I want to explore. I’ll be talking to leadership about ways to do one of these to help folks, especially during these trying times, when we’re not trying to push people out of their homes,” she said.
December 30, 2021 at 7:47 am
You don’t create state law because one area or developer-controlled associations are having issues. Homeowners can get extensions for curing violations to avoid fines and legal costs. Liens are last resorts when h/o refuse to communicate with the HOA or ignore repeated requests to fix problems. Allowing maintenance to be ignored causes a neighborhood to deteriorate and the board has to enforce the covenants or be held legally liable You don’t create state law because one area or developer-controlled associations are having issues. Homeowners can get extensions for curing violations to avoid fines. Liens are last resorts when h/o refuse to communicate with the HOA or ignore repeated requests to fix problems.
December 31, 2021 at 4:16 pm
As a sitting HOA board president for a number of years I feel quite qualified to comment upon this piece and the subject matter. These political answers are wrong-headed, however well-intended.
Covenants and restrictions run with the land and are accepted by the purchaser at closing. Fines and liens to recover costs are the only tools an HOA has at its’ disposal to help resales and rentals keep property aesthetics up to preserve housing values.
However, it is possible as board membership changes with each election cycle that one or more (what WE call) property Nazis becomes the quorum. This is particularly possible when a black and white (rigid) management company takes over or when apathy sets in as owners start turning property into rentals and move out or otherwise lose interest in being a functional part of the community.
We pride ourselves for keeping annual dues to under $300 since 1990 and only having had to file about two dozen or so liens for non-payment of HOA annual assessments in 30 years. Our liens are settled at closings and recoup only costs expended. But we have found as original owners die or leave that new tenants and renters don’t often have the same pride in the community. Fines are the only tool we have been permitted both by covenant and under the law. I honestly think the issue of unfairness isn’t the fines or liens; it’s the belligerent enforcement and bullying by board members themselves. This legislation will likely create a more damaging situation than the one it’s purported to be fixing because it clearly hasn’t been thought through to the consequences.
Yes, developers do create a self-favorable set of rules while they are invested in selling the development. And, yes, those rules ought to be amended to suit the temperament of the community. We have done so 3 times now as residents conveyed their desires, preferences, and complaints through the HOA. It is NOT an easy process to manage, but that mostly falls to the apathy of residents and the cumbersome nature of the administrative rules embedded.
As an all-volunteer board we NEED the ability to help an owner understand their civic obligations to their neighbors, and unfortunately, pain is often the only thing that gets attention.
December 31, 2021 at 7:38 pm
Easy enough to check whether a condo owner lives in the unit. Look at the county property tax assessments for that complex. If it doesn’t have the minimum $25,000.00 deduction, odds are it’s a rental.
January 11, 2022 at 2:05 pm
Most Covenants have remedies that do not include fines for violations. In fact an HOA could not fine prior to 2010 if it wasn’t in the Covenants. The 2010 change to 720.305 allowed every HOA across the state to use fines to bully people into submission for individual pet peeves of the board members. It’s disgusting and unAmerican. When I signed the docs at purchase the HOA was not able to levy fines. The State overruled my Covenants in 2010. My board has recently started fining and it has made us miserable. They even threaten to fine us for not cleaning the city’s sidewalks. The change in 2010 was a power and money grab. I applaud Representative Arrington and Senator Torres for putting the taxpaying homeowners and voters first.
January 11, 2022 at 2:12 pm
Charlotte, my community is well past developer control and they just started fining us for all sorts of petty things. It is unfortunate that this was not addressed in the article. In 2010 the Statute 720.305 changed to allow HOA to fine. Prior to that fining had to be in the covenants to be legal. Legislation changed that and overruled many community’s covenants. State law was created in 2010 because some of you board members had no idea how to enforce rules without being punitive. This statute change was a power and money grab for HOA boards all across the state. I believe it was Charlie Crist who signed it into law. I have asked him where he stands on this now because if he still thinks it’s a good idea then he will not get my vote.
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