CONDOMINIUM & HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROPERTY MANAGED
BY A CONDOMINIUM OR HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION
I. An Overview of Condominium and Homeowner Associations.
In Florida, when you purchase real estate, such as a home, condominium, office or land, in all likelihood a Condominium Association (“COA”) or a Homeowner Association (“HOA”) governs the property. According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, there are over 330,000 private communities managed by COAs or HOAs in the United States. Florida ranks number 1 in the nation with the highest percentage of its population living in COA or HOA communities.
Therefore, before agreeing to purchase a property in Florida, it is vital for you as a potential owner to determine whether a COA or HOA exists within the community and, if so, how it impacts your ownership.
For instance, some communities offer a voluntary membership in a COA or HOA. Other communities, however, have mandatory memberships, which may require the payment of dues to the association on monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
Some HOAs and COAs offer amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, fitness centers, swimming pools, and playgrounds. Some also provide services like trash pickup, landscaping, and professional security.
II. What is the difference between a Condominium Association and Homeowner Association?
1. Condominium Association Defined
A condominium association is defined by Florida Statutes Section 718.103(2) as
“any entity responsible for the operation of common elements owned in undivided shares by unit owners, any entity which operates or maintains other real property in which unit owners have use rights, where membership in the entity is composed exclusively of unit owners or their elected or appointed representatives and is a required condition of unit ownership.”
A COA is established when there are only condominiums. All the condominium owners in that particular community will own their individual unit; however, they will have joint ownership in the building and grounds with other unit owners.
2. Homeowner Association Defined
A homeowners’ association is defined by Florida Statutes Section 720.301(9) as
“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. . . .”
A HOA is established for homeowners who own their individual lots and homes. The homeowner owns his/her own lot and home but the homeowner is required to follow specific regulations, such as regarding lawn upkeep, outdoor decorations, etc.
3. The Board of Directors and Officers
A Board of Directors and Officers govern each association. Each group is comprised of volunteers who live or work in the community. They are elected by other owners to represent the community to ensure owners, guests and tenants abide by the Association’s governing documents such as the Covenants and Restrictions, By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation. This governing body also provides an invaluable component to ensuring property values are maintained.
The elected officials hold meetings where they vote upon current issues that need to be addressed within the community. They also discuss the budget for the upcoming year to ensure that the assessments that are being collected from the homeowners are sufficient enough to address the management of the community and costs the community may incur throughout future years.
4. Special Assessments
There are times when the assessments collected by the Association are insufficient to cover unforeseen expenses. In these instances, a special assessment may be applied. In these cases, the association must follow very specific rules, which are contained in the association’s governing documents, prior to passing a special assessment.
Note: It is essential to understand that special assessments are not the same as an assessment that is collected monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
III. Buyers, Investors, Managers, and Board of Directors consider consulting
with an experienced Association attorney who can provide answers regarding
your Condominium or Homeowner Association’s questions or issues.
1. Guidance for First-time Real Estate Buyers and Investors
If you are a first-time real estate buyer or investor who plans to purchase a property managed and operated by a condominium or homeowner’s association, you should consult with an experienced Association attorney before you seal the deal!
` The attorneys at The Soto Law Office, P.A. can review the Contract for Purchase, Bylaws, and the Covenants and Restrictions documents to identify any potential disputes that may arise due to ambiguous terms or conditions contained therein.
2. Negotiation of Unpaid Association Dues or Assessments
If you are owner who received a notice regarding unpaid association dues or assessments or a violation notice, you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can dispute the notice and thus avoid additional late fees and penalties. Please note that the association can foreclose on your property If the issues addressed in the notice remain unresolved.
The attorneys at The Soto Law Office, P.A. can help resolve or negotiate the issues you are having with the association.
3. Effective Resolutions for Property Managers and Board of Directors
If you are a property manager or Board of Directors member facing legal issues or disputes related to a Condominium or Homeowner Association, The Soto Law Office, P.A. can help!
We offer efficient and effective resolutions and legal services such as:
Drafting, revising, and amending governing documents
Collecting unpaid assessments
Enforcing provisions and requirements of the restrictive covenants, governing documents and Florida law
Initiating lawsuits against non-compliant unit owners
Reviewing and Interpreting the governing documents or Florida law
Representing, Arbitrating, or Mediating the Association’s rights
For more Condominium Association (COA) and Homeowners Association (HOA) information, call Florida Real Estate Attorney, Kimberly Soto, for at 321.972.2279 today to schedule a consultation today! The Soto Law Office, P.A. is conveniently located in Altamonte Springs, Florida near I-4, and proudly serves residents in Altamonte Springs, Apopka, Casselberry, Longwood, Ocoee, Orlando, Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties.