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Naples Real Estate Law Blog

Preparing for presuit mediation

Disputes involving a homeowners' association can be contentious and emotional, especially when they affect community relationships and enjoyment of one's own home. 

As such, it is important to take HOA disputes seriously and take deliberate actions to seek a resolution. In most cases, this means attending presuit mediation. If you are a homeowner who is battling your HOA over issues like covenant enforcement, board meetings or changes to your parcel, then it can be wise to prepare for presuit mediation.

3 reasons why it can be wise to resolve HOA issues quickly

For all the pain points that a homeowners' association (HOA) might alleviate, disputes can arise when residents and the association disagree. In these situations, it can be wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible as there are numerous benefits to resolving the matter quickly.

One situation in another state illustrates the various consequences of failing to reach a timely agreement. That case, which can be read in detail in this article, involves a couple who recently purchased their home and an HOA which refused to mitigate their concerns over a noisy access gate.

What is an ARC?

CONDO and HOA issues: If you live in a homeowners' association, or if you are considering buying a house or condominium in an association, then you should be prepared for the limitations that come with membership. For instance, if you plan to make any changes to your home, or even your landscaping, chances are that you will have to get approval from an Architectural Review Committee ("ARC).

For instance, as specified in Florida statutes,  an ARC (or similar group) is a committee of a HomeOwners Association that has the authority to review and approve any proposed plans that would alter certain aspects of a structure in the association.

HOA Board Meeting - Traps for the unwary

Homeowner's Association (HOA) Law - Attorney Holly Rice's notes from the arena:

Recently, I had sat in on an interesting Board of Directors meeting for a homeowners' association. I liken the experience to watching a shark maul its next meal. This particular HOA had only FOUR members, and they were all on the Board. Alliances had been created, such as you might see on that show, Survivor. Two on two. To me, that meant basically nothing was going to get done. Two issues stood out: FIRST - suspension of voting rights of one of the members. SECOND - enforcement of the covenants to compel removal of a boat from one of the docks. Let's take a look at each issue.

The first issue was whether one member would have his voting rights suspended. Curiously, the member in question was permitted to vote on whether his voting rights would be suspended. However, the President refused to allow him to speak. Not surprisingly, it was a 2-2 vote. Florida Statutes Chapter 720 deals with Homeowners' Associations. Fla. Stat. §720.303 provides that members have the right to attend and speak at board meetings. The President violated Florida law when he refused to allow this board officer to speak. Interestingly, the Florida Statutes do not directly address whether a board member has the right to vote on the suspension of his own voting rights. However, one should always look to not only the Covenant Declaration, but also to the Association Bylaws for guidance. Also, Florida's Not For Profit Corporation Statute, governs where the HOA statute doesn't address an association issue.

The second issue was slightly more complicated,

Condos - Common problems involving common areas

Common areas are often desirable spaces or amenities that come with living in a condominium. They can be lobbies, party rooms, pools or rooftop gardens, though elevators, storage areas and hallways can also be common areas.

Whether they are fun or functional, common areas are owned by the condominium association, as opposed to the individuals who use them. As such, disputes can arise when it comes to control or use of these spaces. Below, we discuss three common problems involving common elements as well as what you can do to resolve them.

How to handle a dispute with your HOA

Homeowners often choose to live in an association or planned development because it alleviates some of the stress and responsibility of home ownership. If you live in an association, you may not need to worry about disruptive neighbors, poorly maintained premises or dangerous pets nearby. 

However, despite all the reassurances that might come with living in a homeowners' association, there is room for disputes to arise. If you are at odds with an HOA in Florida, then you should understand your options for resolving an issue and protecting yourself as a homeowner.

Pet policies and HOA restrictions

Homeowners' associations can provide great peace of mind for homeowners. However, there are also drawbacks to HOAs that can cause serious problems.

For instance, if you are accused of breaking the rules of the association, you could face serious penalties and a contentious battle with the HOA. This can be quite upsetting, especially if the argument from the HOA doesn't make sense or seems to be an abuse of power. One family in Florida is facing this very issue and they, like others in similar situations, are fighting back against the HOA

What is a construction lien and how do they work in Florida?

FLORIDA CONSTRUCTION LAW. A construction lien, also known as a contractor's lien or mechanic's lien, is a legal claim against a property. When properties are built or improvements are made, the contractor and subcontractors may have a right to file a lien against the property if they don't receive full payment. The lien must be paid if the property is to be sold and the contractor can ultimately force the sale of the property, even homestead property, if the lien is not paid off within a certain period.

The easiest way to avoid a construction lien is to pay your contractor in full and on time. If you can't do that, many contractors will accept a payment plan if one is negotiated promptly. However, paying the contractor in full may not be in your interest, for example, if you are involved in a dispute over the project. In cases of dispute, it's a good idea to discuss the situation with an attorney experienced in construction lien law. A Florida attorney can advise whether the lien is valid and enforceable.  For instance, there are scenarios in which a contractor or subcontractor, etc. may be entitled to money damages, but not entitled to a lien on your property.  In these cases, an attorney can possibly force the quick removal or discharge of the lien.

Construction law - Cutting corners has consequences

Florida Construction law is complex. Building projects have the potential to be very complicated and frustrating. Oftentimes, there are issues that arise that lead to delays and added costs. And while it can be tempting to take shortcuts or ignore these issues in the interest of meeting deadlines or getting the job done faster, doing so could ultimately cause more problems than it solves.

One recent situation highlights the pitfalls of prioritizing deadlines over quality on a large scale and it can be a good reminder to people involved in smaller projects that there are consequences for cutting corners.

What problems could arise in historic buildings?

Historic buildings offer unique charm and significance to communities. However, they can also present some legal and financial headaches for people who wish to open businesses, renovate or lease these structures.

If you have plans to lease, buy or start construction in an historic building, then you should be aware of some possible obstacles that may arise. 

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