For about 8 years now, we have received a long list of "violations notices" on our property. Some seem legit but not a single one is covered in any way shape or form in our Declarations, or By-Laws, or Art of Inc. Combined there are about 25 legit restrictions and rules to follow but are very basic. None of them cover such nonsense as replacing a mailbox, removing a "storage locker" in the driveway (which does not exist), weed and feed the lawn, and on and on. I respond back to each asking for the location of the "violation" in the governing docs and have received zero response after a good 40+ letters to the HOA. After a month or so they decide to fine me $1,000, skipping over the $100 fine and want me to plead my case to a "fining committee", always giving me less than the 14 day notice. 720.305(1)(2) are clear that the HOA and homeowner both must comply with the governing docs. In our governing docs (1979) says the exact same thing that all rules and regs must conform to the governing docs. The "fining committee" folks are nice but oblivious to the simplest issues like the 14 day notice. They do what the board wants. Im thinking lawsuit is the next step.??
Perhaps. I would suggest you consult with a good local HOA lawyer to confirm that the conclusions you have reached are accurate. These sound like "Rules" and NOT typically be found in the "Declarations, or By-Laws, or Art of Inc." Not sure what you mean the Rules must "conform" - that does not necessarily mean the Board-promulgated "Rules" have to be the exact SAME as the underlying docs; the Rules are established by the BOARD, in the reasonable exercise of its authority.
In any event, if, as you claim, there are NO such Rules, and if the statutory notice requirements are not being properly followed, the proposed fines can be certainly be challenged, and/or a new hearing arranged.
Retain a good local HOA lawyer before doing a thing, especially filing a law suit against the HOA.
Hope this helps.
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There may be a document call Rules and Regulations that you are not aware of and are violating. These items could also be covered under a general maintenance provision in the Declarations or Bylaws requiring you to maintain your property in a certain condition. If you are thinking lawsuit next, the board is probably thinking the same. The problem you face is, if you have an unpaid fine of $1,000, the HOA can lien and foreclose on your home.
There are a couple of questions you need to ask the condo/HOA lawyer you hire, and I recommend you hire one who practices quite a bit in this field of community association law.
Ask the lawyer to check all the recorded documents of the HOA. You state yours were recorded in 1979. It is possible they are extinguished under the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA) since they are more than 30 years old. Make sure any lawyer you hire has MRTA experience because it is a complex piece of legislation. There's more than just the statutes. There's several important court rulings interpreting the statutes.
Also ask your lawyer to check if the HOA has the right to fine you in the governing documents. While the current statute provides the right to fine to all HOAs, the statute in effect in 1979, when your documents were recorded, takes precedence unless your documents say "subject to Chapter 720 as amended from time to time." I doubt they do since Chapter 720 didn't exist until the mid-1990s. It is possible there is a recorded amendment bringing in Chapter 720 or even the authority to fine or additional restrictions. You need to make sure you have all of the HOA documents, recorded or unrecorded.
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Hire a lawyer to review the governing docs and any promulgated rules by the board; they are equally binding on residents. There may also be general "beauty" rules in terms of conforming mailboxes etc. or an ARB at play here. The $100 is per day, $1000 max, so after a month more than 10 days of purported violation has passed. But any fine issued with less than 14 day notice of the fining committee is invalid; there is case law on the issue. Also MRTA may be an issue with 1979 docs unless renewed since (which will be recorded and relatively easy to determine). Basically you need to hire a lawyer to review everything and will cost you a few hours of time to look into.
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