I live in an HOA in Deltona FL. They have sent me a certified letter of Arbitration wherein they stated that they had sent in previous notifications which I did not receive, in regards to painting the house, treating my yard and pressure washing the drive. What are my rights? What happens in arbitration?
The first step in the enforcement process for an HOA is mediation. The letter you received is probably an offer to mediate from your HOA. The offer's language is set forth in statute and should identify the alleged violation, provide several mediators for you to choose from and give you a specified period of time within which to respond. If you fail to respond within the time allowed the HOA is free to file a lawsuit against you to enforce its deed restrictions. If you want to mediate you will need to respond by signing the offer to mediate and designating the mediator you want to use. The names of mediators provided should include the locations of the mediators offices as well as the fees charged per hour. You can use this information to make your choice. You may also want to contact the individual mediators offices. The mediators will not be able to give you advice or discuss your case in detail, but you may feel more comfortable with one following speaking to them. The purpose of the mediator is to attempt to help you and the HOA reach an agreement whereby the dispute can be settled. The costs of the mediation are to be split between you and the HOA. Each side will pay their own attorney and split the cost of the mediator. However, as part of the settlement negotiations either side may demand that their fees be paid and this may result in no settlement. If no settlement is reached either party may then file the dispute in a court of competent jurisdiction. The benefit to mediation is that a decision will not be imposed upon you. You are free to agree or not agree, and any settlement is reached upon agreement of all parties. Once the matter is in court the judge will decide the case and parties must abide by that decision. You must review the offer to mediate carefully. If you want to mediate you must do all things required, including submitting the mediators deposit, within the time allowed. Failure to do so will forfeit your right to mediate and may make you responsible for the HOA's attorneys fees incurred in the attempt to mediate.