If you live in a planned community in Florida, you are likely a member of a homeowners association (HOA). These organizations are responsible for maintaining the community’s common areas and enforcing the rules outlined in the governing documents. While HOAs can provide many benefits to residents, they can also be a source of conflict. If you find yourself in a dispute with your HOA, there are some steps you can take to resolve the issue.
The first step is to resolve the matter informally by talking to your HOA board or property manager. If this does not resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes. This agency has the authority to investigate complaints and mediate disputes between HOAs and their members. If you still can not resolve this, you may need to consider taking legal action. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and options under Florida law.
With patience and perseverance, most disputes with an HOA can be resolved. Following the proper procedures can avoid costly legal battles and maintain good relations with your neighbors.
Given the growing number of properties governed by homeowners’ associations in the state of Florida, it is not surprising that disputes between members and their associations arise from time to time. For example, suppose you are a member of an HOA in Florida and have a dispute with the organization. In that case, you can take some specific steps to resolve the issue without resorting to costly litigation.
The first step is always to resolve the issue informally by talking to your HOA board or property manager. Many times, a simple discussion can lead to a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.
To promote amicable resolutions and avoid costly litigation, the state of Florida has mandated that certain types of disputes must be mediated before going to court. Under Section 720.311 of the Florida Statutes, homeowners associations must participate in presuit mediation for issues relating to construction defects, damage to property, adoption or amendment of condominium documents, and election contests. The goal of presuit mediation is to encourage communication and collaboration so that parties can reach a mutually agreeable resolution. If mediation is unsuccessful, either party may then file a lawsuit. However, the court will give significant weight to the mediator’s recommendations when making a final determination. As such, it is in the best interest of both parties to make a good faith effort to resolve their differences through mediation.
Section 718.1255 of the Florida Statutes lays out the specific types of disputes subject to this requirement, which include disagreements over the interpretation or enforcement of the condominium documents, allegations of discrimination, and claims for injunctive relief. While arbitration and mediation can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating, they offer a much cheaper and quicker alternative to going to court. In addition, the process can often help parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution without damaging their relationship. For these reasons, unit owners and condominium associations must be familiar with section 718.1255.