Homeowners associations (HOAs) serve to benefit the homeowners within its neighborhoods or communities. When homeowners purchase their property, they agree to adhere to the rules of the HOA and pay dues to contribute to the upkeep of their community.
Florida law requires homeowners to comply with the rules of their applicable association. Yet, disagreements between the HOA board and homeowners are not entirely uncommon. When a disagreement cannot reach a resolution amicably, board members may have to consider next steps to enforce a broken covenant.
The purpose of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs)
CC&Rs provide rules for homeowners. Covenants can be either affirmative or restrictive, providing guidelines for what a homeowner can or cannot do, respectively. Examples of such covenants can include:
- Stating the number of tenants permitted in a unit
- Complying with architectural requirements
- Maintaining property according to specific standards
- Complying with pet or animal rules
- Dictating the proper use of common areas
- Detailing where guests of homeowners can park
Whether due to a failure to recall covenants or the deliberate defiance of the rules, disputes can arise when homeowners engage in actions that violate a covenant.
First steps in resolving a dispute
One of the many benefits of having an HOA board is that homeowners can appeal to the board directly when an issue arises. Whether they wish to paint their front door blue or a neighbor wishes to complain about the actions of another, homeowners can first take the issue up with the board. A homeowner may request a variance, which ultimately seeks the approval of the board to permit an activity that a covenant specifically advises against.
When a dispute cannot reach a resolution through a hearing before the board, the HOA may decide to enforce the covenant by taking legal action against the offending homeowner.
Considerations for HOA board members in a dispute
As an HOA board member in Naples or other surrounding Florida communities, you may be no stranger to disagreements between neighbors, between the board and homeowners and more. However, facing a legal dispute may be daunting.
Board members must consider whether they are exhibiting fair judgment and complying with Florida statutes in their decision to enforce the violated covenant. An attorney well-versed in HOA law can assist you in navigating these considerations and in proactively addressing conflicts.