Than Four Combined Decades
The coast of Florida is a hot spot for condos that are used as full-time residences, an escape for snowbirds and many serve as short-term vacation rentals. Today, the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest cited that 70 million Americans live under the rule of an HOA. Of the 70 million people, an average of 72% claim to have had HOA disputes to resolve with their association. Many learned that this battle can be complex and issues can be difficult to resolve.
Important Facts About How Condo Associations Work
Some associations put for-profit developers in charge of governing the property, while others work with the neighborhood’s property owners. Profit-motivated property management companies tend to have more financial backing, hire their own upkeep and repair teams, and they are more challenging to fight, as they already have a legal team on retainer.
Unless it’s a high-dollar condo (which there are plenty of around Naples, FL) the association board may consist of neighboring property owners. Volunteering with good intentions, they are often untrained to take on the oversight tasks in the community.
This can be problematic, as these board members can assess owners for amounts they choose, and this doesn’t usually come from experience or accurate quotes from outside contractors. Owners are obligated to pay any debts, settlements, loans, liabilities, construction defects, and more at whatever price the board decides.
Essentially, these inexperienced parties have a lot of authority and oversight to control the appearance of the owner’s condo exterior, give out violation fines, declare debts due, and more. They can enact rules at any time that directly affect all residents. This, in and of itself, tends to lead to HOA disputes between savvy homeowners and unwitting board members.
Common Disputes & What Owners Should NOT Do
There are two primary areas where homeowners and associations tend to come into conflict: rule enforcement and due or assessment collection. The stakes are high for owners, as associations have the right to foreclose on your property and file liens against it should you fail to pay assessments or fines. You can lose your home and still be held liable for the fines and legal costs associated with the foreclosure. If you don’t have a property dispute resolution lawyer in or around Naples, Florida, consider retaining one. Here is some of the no-no advice they’ll offer you.
Litigation is expensive for HOAs, which leaves them more open to compromise negotiations. However, how you approach them is pivotal in which direction the members may lean toward after hearing your ‘case’. The first thing to do after getting a notice of violating a rule or that dues are in arrears, is to contact the board and request a face-to-face meeting to be scheduled.
During the meeting, plead your case and attempt to appeal to their intrinsic sense of fairness and decency. If you violated a community rule, admit it if you did so. Apologize to the condo board with a promise that you won’t do it again. If you’re in arrears for condo dues or fees, make arrangements to get paid up ASAP, and ask the board for an extension for temporary relief.
If you think the board is incorrect, ask for clarification in writing about the particular rule you violated. If dues are in arrears, ask for evidence of which month or months went uncollected by the board. Even if you believe you are in the right, going at members with a bad attitude heightens the conflict and loses favor with the board quickly.
Approaches To Take When Confronting Condo Association Members
Whether you’re dealing with local neighbors or a for-profit management company, head into talks with the final goal in mind. Staying focused, having evidence, and being clear and concise about what you are requesting is a must. It may be best to let a legal representative or a dispute resolution specialist handle negotiations and requests on your behalf to ensure that optimal results are seen. After all, they are experts and have a greater understanding of condo HOA laws than the board members themselves.
Need Help Dealing with Condo HOA Disputes in Florida?
At The Morgan Law Group, our experienced dispute resolution lawyers in Florida can help owners under HOAs with making resolutions or fighting on their behalf to counteract the board. When your condo is on the line, there’s no time to waste! Contact us online or call 888-904-2524 to schedule a free consultation.