Condominium and Homeowner Association Disputes In Florida
If you live in Florida or, in fact, have ever visited Florida, you are probably aware that there are condominiums just about everywhere. It is also true that with the proliferation of subdivisions and planned communities just about everywhere in Florida, that homeowner associations (HOAs) are almost a constant of owning a home in the state. Both condos and HOAs are all well and good until there is some type of conflict between you, the homeowner, and the association. Unfortunately, these conflicts are all too common and the average homeowner often feels that they can go it alone and resolve these issues themselves. While this sometimes may be the case, you should still consult a seasoned real estate attorney to help you preserve your rights. This article will discuss a couple of the common issues that arise between homeowners and these associations.
Unpaid Condo Fees and HOA Fees
What can happen to you in Florida if you don’t pay your condo or HOA fees? Simply put, you can lose your home. Florida law gives specific authorization to the condo to place a lien on the home if the owner fails to pay their fees. Typically, the association will send a number of collection letters during the first 60 days of the fees being overdue (usually three). At some point after this, the matter is then usually turned over to an attorney to file a lien against the property. If the amount due under the lien is not satisfied, then the matter usually proceeds to foreclosure. The matter then proceeds just like any other foreclosure and if there is a mortgage lender with stakes in the property, they too get involved. Considering that condo and HOA fees can equal a substantial portion of your monthly mortgage payment, it behooves buyers to ensure that, when purchasing a condo or HOA governed property, they include the fees and assessments in determining their budget for purchasing capability. A $2,000 per month mortgage is one thing, but an additional $750 in monthly fees changes the costs entirely.
Conflict With HOA Requirements
Many people have probably heard some of the popular HOA horror stories that have become urban legends, like a purple house being allowed (or vice versa) and the battle that either the neighbors had trying to prevent it or the battle the homeowner had in trying to get it approved. There are dozens of them available to peruse on the Internet.
However, what a homeowner must understand is that in most cases, especially when the rules already exist upon purchase, the HOA has the final say. When you purchase a home that is governed by an HOA, you agree to be bound by the HOA’s rules. Some may be innocuous, like specifying the color of the shutters required. Others, however, may not be so innocent, like requiring a specific style of door that costs thousands of dollars more than what you feel is appropriate. Again, it is beneficial for the purchaser to understand what they are getting into when they buy a property that is governed by an HOA. There are situations, of course, in which the homeowner can contest the rules and applicability, especially if the rules were created post-purchase. HOAs have rules they have to follow, too. However, situations involving HOAs can be complex and often have processes more akin to constitutional law cases than real estate issues.
If you are purchasing a condo or a home that is under an HOA, you must do your due diligence and understand what you are getting into. If you already own a condo or an HOA controlled property and you are having a dispute with your association, it is important you take all necessary actions to protect yourself. You need experienced representation to help ensure your investment is protected. The Coral Gables law firm of P.A. Bravo handles all types of condominium and HOA issues and has resolved hundreds of cases in favor of our clients. If you are about to purchase a property like this and need clarification of the rules, or if you are trying to keep the purple house out of your neighborhood, we can help. Give us a call at (305) 209-9019 to set up your initial consultation today.