The state moves to regulate your neighborhood
Regulating your neighborhood   

Article and Video Courtesy of  Action News -- FOX CH. 30

By Amanda Warford

Published August 12, 2013

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More than 2 million Floridians pay their monthly dues to Homeowners Associations, and there are hundreds of those groups in Jacksonville alone.


Attorney Fred Elefant says HOA members paid the price when the housing market collapsed, and nearby homes were left abandoned. 


"The associations have had a very hard time with members leaving or not paying their dues. A lot of the banks are moving slowly because there's so many homes in default."
But the frustrations don't stop there.
"The developers in many instances were trying to shift the economic burden to the homeowners."

Now the state is stepping in to protect homeowners, by making changes to the laws that govern how HOA's operate. According to Florida Realtors, the changes include:

  • HOA directors must disclose any affiliation they have with a vendor, and approval of those contracts requires a two-thirds vote of the directors. It also gives HOA members the right to disaffirm one of these contracts at a future members' meeting with a simple majority vote. {The Becker Poliakoff website interprets “simple majority vote” as the majority vote of the members present at the meeting as opposed to the majority vote of the total association membership.}

  • HOA directors cannot personally receive goods or services from any providers working with the association.

  • Once a developer sells 50 percent of the parcels, the association must add one non-developer HOA member to its Board of Directors.

  • Prohibits a community's developer from making a unilateral amendment to the declaration governing an association if that amendment is arbitrary, capricious or in bad faith; or if it destroys the general plan of development, prejudices the rights of members to use common property, or materially shifts economic burdens from the developer to members.

And for the first time, HOA's are now required to register with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
"Right now I think all they're trying to get a handle on is how many associations are out there, how much money they're spending, because this was previously unregulated," says Elefant.
Elefant thinks the changes could prevent future conflicts, and will hold HOA's accountable, which will make it more fair for homeowners.

"These are protections that the legislature is adding to protect the homeowners. It's very well intended."

But Action News spoke with many homeowners who are concerned about the government getting more involved with their HOA's, no matter the intention.
"Anytime the government imposes regulations other things change, and its never for the better," said Donald St. Pierre. "There's always some kind of side effect that's going to pop up because of it. Some things we might not even know about."
All Florida HOA's are required to register with the DBPR by November 22. They must provide their name, federal ID number, mailing and location addresses, total number of parcels, and total revenue and expenses in annual budget. Once that information is collected, the DBPR will prepare a full report for the state legislature by December 1.
According to a DBPR spokesperson, the website to register HOA's is currently being developed, and will be available by the deadline of October 1.