I made my HOA very angry yesterday when I found a loop hole in our by laws that ended up in my favor.Later last night I found out from another board member that the board is still going to find a way to fine me the thousand dollars that they were trying to impose on me not to mention the thousand dollar fine that the board sent me a letter stating that if I were not at the meeting yesterday that I would be fined a thousand dollars and they are still looking for more.
Without reviewing all of the declarations and the correspondence from the HOA and evaluating facts that you did not include in your posting, I cannot answer your question. If you think that you have been treated unfairly by the HOA, you should contact an experienced real estate lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can review all of the documents and advise you how to proceed. However, don't go to a lawyer thinking that filing a lawsuit is like winning the lottery. You are only entitled to the damages you can prove to the court that you have suffered.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Real Estate Attorney
Marshall Deason is correct. There is no way to answer this question without knowing more. You have not stated what the fines are for, what the "loophole" is, or provided a copy of the Bylaws which is the contract governing this dispute. I am not sure, based on the limited facts proposed that this is "harassment" meaning they could say the double billing was a clerical error. As Mr. Deason correctly stated, the damages you can seek are limited by what you can prove.
Based on the information you provided I would not expect a substantial windfall. You should consult with a local attorney to see if your case is worth pursuing.
No attorney-client relationship exists by the submission of this answer. Rian M. Kinney, Esq. is only licensed to practice in the state of Florida. Any response given is based on the question presented and not individual or particular facts. Please consult an attorney in your state for a more detailed explanation and legal advice particular to your situation.
First, the board cannot impose a fine. By statute the HOA has to have a 3-member fining committee whose members are no relation to any director, officer, agent or employee. They have to meet, whether you attend or not, and vote to impose a fine. The board cannot override their decision.
Second, threatening to fine you for a covenant violation is not harassment. You have a duty to obey covenants and the HOA has a duty to enforce them. Finding a loophole that gets you out of the fine doesn't mean they harassed you unless they knew they couldn't fine you. Even if they don't follow the proper statutory procedures, the courts recognize board members are volunteers who may not be familiar with all of the statutes. The Business Judgment Rule protects them from their own mistakes and stupidity.
Finally, Florida law doesn't recognize a cause of action for harassment. There is negligent infliction of emotional distress, which requires physical injury and intentional infliction which is a high standard to prove because you have to prove someone's state of mind.
This does not mean you do not have some other basis for legal action, but without the specifics, as the other two lawyers pointed out, advice is difficult. Also, the details of this require you to meet in person with an attorney. Posting on a message board or emailing does not provide a sufficient opportunity to interview you and get all the necessary facts. You should consult a condo/HOA lawyer. There are special rules for engaging associations in legal disputes.
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.