My HOA is trying to stick a "administrative fee" for violations (minor) notified to me. I was complying to the violations and contacted them over the same but they fail to acknowledge my attempts to contact(I've documentation) and now they are sticking me with this fee for failure to contact or remove the violation. Since I feel I am dealing with an un-reasonable HOA president. I wanted to bring the issue infront of a committe as per the Florida law:"720.305". The HOA president asserts the money they are charging is a "fee" not a "fine" hence not entitled to be reviewed by a committee and it surely seems like a fine to me but they have twisted the words to avoid this clause. What are my options?
While I was in the middle of disputing this with the Property Management and President, I recieved yet another certified mail adding late fee to the admin fee. I have contacted the other board members but they seem to be hesitant to bring the issue in front of the President.
Residential Real Estate Lawyer
The HOA cannot charge you any fee unless the governing documents (Declarations, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation) specifically give the HOA the authority to charge the fee. I have never seen documents that grant the authority to charge an admin fee for covenant violations, but it is possible yours include this. You wil need to look for a paragraph with a heading of "covenant enforcement" or something similar. The same applies to late fees. Unless the documents provide for the HOA to charge late fees, they cannot charge them.
You should carefully consider if fighting this is worth your time and trouble. If the documents allow for a lien and/or foreclosure for the fees, you are at risk of losing your home. Even if they cannot take your home, fighting with your HOA in court is expensive and risky. HOAs receive favorable treatment in Florida and the loser has to pay the other party's legal fees. If you spend $50,000 - $100,000 fighting the HOA and lose, you could end up paying another $100,000 - $150,000 to the HOA for legal fees.
Homeowners are at a severe disadvantage when dealing with their HOAs and the Florida Legislature even acknowledges this in the HOA Act, yet it continues to exist with no state agency to regulate HOAs or enforce the few laws that do protect the homeowners.
You should contact an experienced HOA/condo lawyer for a personal consultation to understand your rights and duties.
This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is always recommended you consult an attorney in person to discuss your case. The Law Offices of Stage & Associates practices state-wide and represents homeowners and community associations. Please visit our website at www.stagelaw.com.