In my subdivision, the developer-issued contract for the security cameras expired last year. The homeowners association set up new cameras at the clubhouse, and at the secondary gates, but now they are refusing to put up working cameras at the main entrance gates. The HOA has the money to do it but they just will not. I am a homeowner paying dues and I believe that providing this type of security is supposed to be one of the duties of the HOA, and by refusing to put functional cameras back up it is putting us residents at a greater unnecessary risk. Many residents are completely unaware that the cameras up there have not worked for over a year now, and now the HOA board is constantly trying to avoid the subject. What can be done to compel the HOA to put these cameras back in place?
The association is only required to provide those services that are mandated by the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions for the community. It would be unusual for the declaration to mandate multiple security cameras at specific location. Services beyond those mandated by the declaration are provided at the discretion of the board of directors of the HOA. If you would like to voice your opinion at a scheduled meeting of the board, you may be allowed to do so. You should contact a member of the board to see what the procedure is for your HOA. If you feel that the HOA board is acting inappropriately, you may want to hire an experienced real estate lawyer to represent you in your dealings with the board.
A recent arbitration case in a condominium case ruled the addition of security cameras was a material change to common areas which required a vote of the membership and the condo association was ordered to remove the cameras or get the approval of the membership. The Condominium Act requires a 75% approval of the membership.
While the Homeowners Association Act does not have the same statutory requirement, the courts have held a material change to common areas does require a vote of the membership. Whether or not removing cameras is also considered a material change is left to be seen. The other problem is HOAs are not currently regulated by the State of Florida and any legal remedy would require you to participate in pre-suit mediation and then, if the HOA doesn't agree with you, expensive litigation. A mediatoor, unlike an arbitrator, cannot issue a ruling. The mediator can only attempt to get the parties to reach an agreement. While they are really good at their jobs, there is nothing requiring the parties to reach a settlement of the dispute.
Legislation is being drafted for 2014 to create regulation of HOAs. It is important to support this much needed bill by spreading the word and letting your elected officials know you support the legislation.
An HOA does not have a duty to keep the homes or homeowners safe. Also, the board has the power to determine contracts on behalf of the HOA. You must read the CC&Rs--following them is mandatory. If the CC&Rs do not mandate cameras, the board does not have to have them. If you feel strongly, run for the board, and encourage others to do the same. In my experience, the same people tend to serve over and over again because noone else wants to run and do the work.