Florida's Feudal Kingdom Law

In this series of Posts, I take a look at Florida Statute 720 Homeowners Associations. This statute lobbied into place by developers and lawyers essentially sets the stage to force you into an agreement turning over a number of your rights and creating a feudal kingdom where you have little say over the operation and management of real property you have purchased.

The argument here is if you don’t want to buy into a managed community, then go elsewhere. Going elsewhere is often not easy if you are first-time  home buyer, looking for advantageous financing or have a few bruises on your credit.

The fact is many people don’t even bother to read the HOA Declarations before they sign the sales contract and once signed your in whether you like it or not.

After the fact your stuck with no way out other than selling and moving.
In the end it all about controlling you and a bunch of people lawyers and management companies making a lot of money off of your grief.

Read on.
Florida's Feudal Kingdom Law

Feudal Kingdom - 10-18-19 Baypost Media

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Here is the bullshit definition of a Homeowners/Condominium Association:
A Home Owners Association (HOA) is an organization of homeowners of a particular subdivision, condominium or planned unit development. The purpose of a home owners association is to provide a common basis for preserving, maintaining and enhancing their homes and property.
HOAs are really about legally allowing a small group of people to establish and operate what would be defined in medieval times as a feudal kingdom where everything you as a resident do is observed and controlled by the ruling hierarchy.
Investopeoia lists the pros and cons:
  • Set and enforce community rules
  • Protect property values
  • Provide services, amenities, and facilities
  • Offer self-governance
  • Set fees, dues, and assessments
  • Impose restrictive regulations
  • Operate inefficiently
  • Management amateurishly or ineptly
Here is a “legal definition: (USLegal.com)
A Home Owners Association (HOA) is an organization of homeowners of a particular subdivision, condominium or planned unit development. The purpose of a home owners association is to provide a common basis for preserving maintaining and enhancing their homes and property. Most homeowners' associations are non-profit corporations. They are subject to state statutes that govern non-profit corporations and homeowner associations. The associations provide services, regulate activities, levy assessments, and impose fines. Usually, each member of a homeowners association pays assessments. Those assessments or dues are used to pay for expenses that arise from having and maintaining common property.
Example of a state statute defining Homeowners association.
9) "Homeowners' association" or "association" means a Florida corporation responsible for the operation of a community or a mobile home subdivision in which the voting membership is made up of parcel owners or their agents, or a combination thereof, and in which membership is a mandatory condition of parcel ownership, and which is authorized to impose assessments that, if unpaid, may become a lien on the parcel. The term "homeowners' association" does not include a community development district or other similar special taxing district created pursuant to statute.

From Investopedia:
A homeowners association (HOA) is an organization in a subdivision, planned community or 
condominium that makes and enforces rules for the properties and their residents. Those who purchase property within an HOA's jurisdiction automatically become members and are required to pay dues, known as HOA fees. Some associations can be very restrictive about what members can do with their properties.
If you live in Florida in a condominium or a community with a Homeowners’ Association, you may wonder where the authority for all of those laws and rules comes from.
Where does the condo Nazi get his/herauthority?hHowtcanHthisagroupsofr“Officers”fcontrolcyouroprivatepproperty?operty?
Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a look at HOAs and condo associations in Florida.
Millions of Florida residents are subject to the sometimes legal, sometimes illegal and almost always invasive impact of these state legalized entities that often have more power over residents in non-criminal matters than the Sheriff, the police department or your local county or municipal government. Example: The Sheriff cannot tell you how long your grass can be.
HOA/Condo law is a quagmire of laws, HOA/Cond Association declarations and rules.
There are some places to take your HOA/CONDO Association issues:
Tallahassee Office:
Office of the Condominium Ombudsman
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-1008
Phone: 850.922.7671
FAX: 850.488.3395
Ft. Lauderdale Office:
Office of the Condominium Ombudsman
1400 W. Commercial Boulevard, Suite 185-J
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309-3791
Phone: 954.202.3234
FAX: 954.202.3237
Spanish Inquiries: 954.202.3235
Don’t expect a lot.
Want to share your Condo or HOA Association story? Scroll down to the Comment section and have at it.
Afraid to comment?
I understand. That’s another thing HOAs and Condo Associations often take away from you - your first amendment right to free speech.
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How Did You Get into The HOA Mess?

Florida’s Feudal Kingdom Law

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by:  Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

Reasons for HOAs
In existence since the 1960s, HOAs were developed for a multitude of reasons, including the following: They helped developers by allowing them to transfer the day-to-day operations of their properties to an association of the property homeowners once a certain percentage of homes were sold.
By Jake Mitchell of Credit Donky: 23 Reasons Why Homeowners Associations are Good
Florida Statute 720 is the primary guiding law for the establishment and operation of Homeowners and Condo associations.
720.302 Purposes, scope, and application.—
(1) The purposes of this chapter are to give statutory recognition to corporations not for profit that operate residential communities in this state, to provide procedures for operating homeowners’ associations, and to protect the rights of association members without unduly impairing the ability of such associations to perform their functions.
(2) The Legislature recognizes that it is not in the best interest of homeowners’ associations or the individual association members thereof to create or impose a bureau or other agency of state government to regulate the affairs of homeowners’ associations. However, in accordance with s. 720.311, the Legislature finds that homeowners’ associations and their individual members will benefit from an expedited alternative process for resolution of election and recall disputes and presuit mediation of other disputes involving covenant enforcement and authorizes the department to hear, administer, and determine these disputes as more fully set forth in this chapter. Further, the Legislature recognizes that certain contract rights have been created for the benefit of homeowners’ associations and members thereof before the effective date of this act and that ss. 720.301-720.407 are not intended to impair such contract rights, including, but not limited to, the rights of the developer to complete the community as initially contemplated.
Disclosure: Comments here are presented without individual references for obvious reasons. They are taken from social media, Reddit, Facebook and other similar sources.
I've never heard of someone having a good experience with an HOA. I understand they were originally to keep property values up but I've heard lately they can bring them down because people don't want to deal with the HOA. So why do they still exist? Is it possible to live in a neighborhood and disband one?
My neighborhood had one and decided to do away with it and right after that one of my neighbors started a pig farm in his yard. So things like that could be a reason.
That said, I like the pigs better than the HOA.

There’s probably a reason why “Two-thirds of people who live in the jurisdiction of a homeowners association” have a negative opinion of them“19% have been in what they call a ‘war’ with their HOA““54% of respondents said they’d rather live with a ‘sloppy neighbor’ than deal with an HOA”“78% of those responding to the poll said they might consider NOT buying a home because it would be under the jurisdiction of an HOA”

Because HOAs have a tendency to devolve into petty tyrannies run by busybodies who arbitrarily limit the esthetic choices of someone who ostensibly owns a home and the land it's on. Which usually leads to bland, soulless, cookie-cutter neighborhoods with 3 or 4 different shades of brown and beige trim and all the same fences, sourced from the HOA president's brother-in-law, who happens to be the only authorized fence installer.

HOAs can also become feifdoms, with power-hungry cliques taking over control of a neighborhood through HOA board seats. HOAs can be the source of much drama and nepotism. As HOAs are private organizations, they are not subject to the same open meetings laws and rules that municipalities employ in their governance. They can suck the joy out of home ownership all in the name of "preserving property value".

But the problem is not just the board members and their petty authoritarianism that we so frequently hear about. Those folks are just the public front, and often puppets. There is an entire industry of property managers, specialized attorneys, and other vendors that has come into existence to feed off of home owners, because the law is so incredibly weighted against the home owners in H.O.A. corporations that the home owners are essentially powerless.

HOAs suck because they have almost limitless power and aren't required to provide any sort of due process. Living under a powerful HOA that's out to get you is like living under a totalitarian regime that has the power to ruin you financially with arbitrary fees and liens. I will never again in life purchase a property that's under the jurisdiction of an HOA, even if it means living in the middle of a swamp. Give me liberty or give me a lease!

From Kathy Price-Robinson. “Two-Thirds ‘Annoyed’ With HOA, Survey Says” Two-thirds of people who live in the jurisdiction of a homeowners association are "annoyed" by them, or worse, and 19% have been in what they call a "war" with their HOA. This is according to a survey of more than 3,000 customers by Service Magic.

On the upside, 24% responded positively about HOAs. However, while a primary purpose of HOAs is to force neighbors to keep up the appearance of their homes, 54% of respondents said they’d rather live with a “sloppy neighbor” than deal with an HOA. Here are the results to this question:

What is your opinion of homeowners associations?

They’re great 8%
They’re okay 16%
Minor annoyance 21%
Major headache 48%
No opinion 7%

Plus, 78% of those responding to the poll said they might consider NOT buying a home because it would be under the jurisdiction of an HOA.

End of Comments

I personally have never been in a conversation about HOAs when someone bragged about how wonderful their HOA is.

I will continue our trip through Florida Statute 720 in the next post.

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The Homeowners Association - Where Does The Power Come From?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Community associations and Homeowners Associations derive their basic legal authority for their existence, activities, and actions from state statutes (laws) and certain legal documents.
Florida Statute 720, specifically Section 720.301 Definitions Section (4) Defines “Declaration of Covenants. These are the rules established by the developer or the Association that will absolutely control every facet of your life on your property and in your home.
What are the Declarations in a Homeowners Agreement?
From Fla Statute 720 (4) “Declaration of covenants,” or “declaration,” means a recorded written instrument or instruments in the nature of covenants running with the land which subject the land comprising the community to the jurisdiction and control of an association or associations in which the owners of the parcels, or their association representatives, must be members
If you are already railing and thinking “I’ll sue them,” think again.
Scroll down Statute 720 to Section 720.311 Dispute Resolution and read carefully. You will note that if you lose at any point, you will pay your legal fees and those of the Association.
When you agree to purchase a property or condo in Florida that is a managed community or building you essentially sign away a significant number of rights guaranteed under the US Constitution.
4.2 No Vested Rights. Each Owner by acceptance of a deed to a Home irrevocably waives any claim that such Owner has any vested rights pursuant to case law or statute with respect to this Declaration or any of the other Governing Documents. It is expressly intended that Declarant and the Association have the broad right to amend this Declaration and the other Governing Documents, except as limited by applicable law as it exists on the date this Declaration is recorded in the Public Records or except as expressly set forth herein.
In Florida, Statue 720 was lobbied into place by developers and lawyers.
For developers, it is a means to maintain control as a development is completed and makes it easier to establish a revenue flow (HOA dues) for the development of common property, for lawyers it is a boondoggle of revenue beyond belief and for the HOA industry it is heaven on earth.
Doubt me?
Click on these links:
HOA Lawyers Florida over 1,000,000 hits
HOA Management Companies Florida  over 2,000,000 Hits
HOA Industry in Florida almost 3,000,000 hits
If you think, this industry is without influence, I called a local newspaper and ask the editor if they had a reporter who covered HOAs and Condo Associations. He laughed and said, “Oh we don’t get into that mess.”
A big part of that “mess” is all the revenue that comes from developer and real estate advertising.
Why does the Florida Legislature continue to allow this type of feudal land development?
Since lawyers and developers have major influence and lobbying power in Tallahassee, it should be pretty easy to understand why the homeowners are on the losing end.
There have been some attempts to modify State Statute 720, but they are usually tweaks that benefit the industry and not the home owner.
If you are already stuck in one of these feudal kingdoms, your just stuck, unless you want to gamble a lot of money, and be sure to note that all the people who bleed money from this statue will do everything possible to make sure you don’t win even the slightest concession.
If your new to Florida and thinking about buying a home, carefully consider shopping for a development with no HOA or community association(almost impossible to find) or just buying a lot and building a home.  
Worried about amenities such as a club house, pool or golf course? A lot of cash starved HOAs allow outside memberships. Even a big price is better than a big assessment and a managed life.
Why don’t you send a link to this post to your Florida State Senator or Representative?
Not sure who that is? Here is a link Florida Legislature.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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The Architectural Control Committee – The HOA Nightmare

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD, 
Author: In Search of Robin

If you live in a condo or an HOA association-controlled apartment, residence or property, your most likely interaction will be with something called the architectural committee or its counterpart.
The architectural control committee is established in the association’s declarations or CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) and in Florida, it’s also authorized in the Florida statute 720.3035. So, it’s functions and actions are not only provided for in the condo association/HOA rules and regulations, they are also supported by Florida's state law.
Generally speaking, the people who migrate to the architectural control committee or its condo counterpart are those most interested in controlling the lives of the people that live in the condo or development, and they have a significant tendency to be those least easy to deal with.
An acquaintance of mine whose son was in his in the driveway of his recently purchased home in an association-controlled community, was rinsing off his car when he heard the clicking of a camera behind him. He turned around to see a somewhat angry looking lady standing in his yard, who identified herself as a member of the “Environmental Control Committee” taking pictures of his son and the car.
A few days later and envelope was found taped to the door with a $25 fine from the Environmental Control Committee since washing your car is illegal under the HOA rules. Obviously, a battle ensued; feelings were hurt, and my friend is looking for a new home.
For a more detailed look at the law supporting architectural control committee’s click this link https://findhoalaw.com/architectural-committee/ .
Depending upon the provisions of the association’s governing documents, the architectural committee may be referred to as any of the following: Architectural Committee, Architectural Control Committee, Architectural Review Committee, Art Jury, Design Review Committee, Environmental Control Committee, Landscape Review Committee.
An architectural committee's authority and responsibility came from the Homeowners Association's bylaws also known as CC&Rs(Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions)
Members of the architectural committee are responsible for maintaining the aesthetic and structural integrity of the association and enforcing the CC&Rs.
They should be reviewing any applications for modifications, additions, or architectural changes in the community.

The architectural review committee is responsible for: 
  • Managing the change or modification application and approval process;
  • Monitoring the community for violations of standards;
  • Fairly enforcing standards set forth in the governing documents;
  • Making subjective and objective decisions about guideline compliance;
  • Making recommendations to the board of directors;
  • Reviewing guidelines for adequacy and proposing changes
  • Educating the community about set guidelines.
These committees operate under the guise of “protecting property values," “maintaining aesthetic consistency," “external conformity," but frequently it is all about power and imposing personal will than it is about property value or esthetic consistency.
Fighting with the Architectural Control Committee any of its iterations or the Association Board of Directors is usually a losing battle.
The courts have made it clear that HOA covenants are valid and enforceable provided there are clear policy guidelines establishing the overall standards and they are applied uniformly. Florida Statute 720 loads the game in the favor of the developers, lawyers and the feudal kingdoms they create.
Most year's minor tweaks in the Statute 720 are made by the legislature, but these changes are carefully watched over by the developers, lawyers and those that make significant money from litigation related to Statute 720 impositions.
It just seems unconscionable to me that the State would allow a situation where one of the conditions of purchasing real property could be the enforcement of an agreement that directly takes away rights guaranteed by our constitution.
It is way past time for the Florida Legislature to take a serious look at the requirements imposed by developers on their customers and make some changes that protect the buyer.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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