Many homeowners in Florida live in communities with a homeowners association or HOA. HOAs are legal entities, and the homeowners and board members that make up the HOA have legal rights. While property owners have the right to possess, control and enjoy their homes, HOAs are able to create community rules and regulations to the extent specified in the covenants and agreements associated with the purchase of the home and HOA membership.
Homeowners can work to change HOAs
Homeowners have a right to seek a change in the HOA’s board, rules and regulations. In most cases, the HOA documents layout a procedure to propose new rules, make an amendment or run for the board. Certain types of changes may need to be made immediately; for example, HOA regulations may not violate local or state laws, and they must not violate anti-discrimination or civil rights laws.
Homeowners may review financial documents
HOAs must provide homeowners with key documents when requested, including financial reports, board agendas and minutes, tax returns, rule changes, reserves summaries, budget reports and vendor contracts. Most HOAs assess monthly and annual fees on the homeowners in the associations. Homeowners have a right to question or challenge fee increases or special assessments, and they may request some of those financial documents in order to make their case. Many disputes in condominium and HOA law revolve around allegations of misuse of funds or improper assessments.
HOA boards may place a lien on a homeowner’s property for unpaid assessments. However, they are also responsible for giving proper notice for any special assessments or fee increases. In some cases, the disputes between homeowners and HOAs may extend beyond the community; homeowners can sue the HOA for certain types of wrongdoing, discrimination or unlawful activities.