Q. What are the options available to HOA board if unit homeowner refuses to comply with violation letter? We have several violations in our community involving leases, parking and pets, and we have sent violation letters, but we cannot get compliance on a consistent basis.
A. The key word in your question is “consistent”. If an HOA does not adopt an enforcement policy that is consistently enforced across the board, your community will have a very low success rate when it comes to correcting violations. Over time, if the HOA stays lax and/or inconsistent with enforcement, the HOA will slowly lose its legal ability to enforce the covenants and rules at all. When a violation has occurred and is not corrected after a written violation notice, the HOA has the option of imposing daily fines of $100.00 in addition to suspending the homeowner’s right to use the common amenities. The problem with fining and suspensions is that the HOA must give the homeowner an opportunity to challenge or appeal the penalty in front of a committee of three members.
The committee cannot have any Board members, and it is often difficult to gather three homeowners to volunteer for this committee, particularly when they are asked to give up their free time to penalize their neighbors. Further, fines can be difficult to collect and suspensions can be difficult to enforce. I prefer the demand for pre-suit mediation. Under the Florida HOA laws, either the HOA or the homeowner can demand pre-suit mediation in any dispute involving violations of the rules. This demand will force the homeowner to either comply or spend money on lawyers and mediators defending their behavior. We find this tool to be more effective, and many homeowners end up complying with the rules before spending thousands on mediation. If the homeowner refuses to accept the pre-suit mediation, the association can file a lawsuit to compel compliance with the rules and recover its attorney’s fees and court costs from the homeowner.