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Four Different Types of Planned Community Associations

Many community associations including HOAs, Condo Associations and Cooperatives all have similar characteristics.  However, there exist differences depending on the types of residences under management and the type of financial arrangement made by the owners of the homes.  There are four distinct types of association in the state of Florida.

Planned Community HOAs

Planned communities are neighborhoods (or a collection of neighborhoods) that often consist of single-family houses. Some of these communities may also be a mix of townhomes and apartments in addition to single-family houses.  These neighborhood communities may have amenities such as pools, playgrounds, lakes and community centers.  Typically, the homes in a planned community HOA are protected by 24-7 gated security. 

In many cases, the homeowners in a planned community HOA own the land their homes are on as well as their yard (if applicable). Homeowners would typically either pay a fee to the HOA in return for landscaping and upkeep services.  In other cases, the HOA requires each house to invest in the time and other resources to upkeep their own yards and would levy a fine to homeowners who do not maintain their yards up to a predetermined standard.

In Florida, all HOAs are governed by The Florida Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA), Fla. Stat. §720.301.  This part of the Florida Statute outlines how HOAs are formed, managed, and operated throughout the state.  When compared to other states, Florida’s HAA is more far-reaching and comprehensive.

For example, when buying a house in an HOA-managed community, there are very specific document and reporting requirements that buyers and sellers need to be aware of.

HOAs and those living in or planning to buy in communities managed by them would be wise to consult a knowledgeable real estate lawyer with experience with HOA law to help navigate the complexities.

Townhouse HOAs 

Townhouse owner’s associations operate very much like traditional HOAs and are also governed by Florida Statute §720.301. Owners in these communities usually own the land their home is on and are responsible for maintaining the interiors and also often the exterior yards of their townhouses. 

Because townhouses are attached to one another they have shared areas that are not clearly owned by one homeowner.  Therefore, townhouse HOA’s might provide exterior maintenance of the townhouses such as fixing roofs and rain gutters. Likewise, the HOA usually also handles pest control. As is the case for traditional HOAs, Townhouse HOAs are responsible for landscaping and lawn care for the communities common areas.

Living in a Townhouse provides for many of the advantages of both a house and a condominium.  However, it may also present some challenges as the built areas of the houses are shared.  Townhouse HOAs and those who own in these communities will occasionally have disputes.  It is important that either side consult a knowledgeable real estate counsel with experience in HOA law.

Condominium Associations 

Condominium Associations are like HOAs in that they are responsible for the upkeep of common area amenities including pools, parking lots and lawns. Condo owners will take care of the interior of their homes and pay the condominium association fees to maintain the common areas.

There are, however, some differences between condo associations and HOAs. First of all, the upkeep of the exterior portions of the building is managed entirely by the association rather than the owners themselves.  Secondly, in Florida, condo associations are governed by a separate statute, The Florida Condominium Act, Florida. Statute. §718.101.  This stature is similar to the Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA) but differs in some key areas.  

Areas where the FCA differs from the HAA include stricter budget adherence and reporting for condominium associations. Condo associations in Florida may opt to be formed as for-profit or non-profit entities, whereas HOAs are legally required to be non-profit entities.  The FCA also includes such unique provisions as a “cooling off period” of a length that varies depending on whether the purchaser is buying a unit in an existing or new condo complex.  Furthermore, because of the nature of condominiums, there are often more regulations concerning pets in condo associations than there would typically be in an HOA.

Like HOA statutes, condo association law in Florida is frequently updated and amended.  Associations and condo owners facing challenges can seek a knowledgeable real estate attorney with experience in condo association law to help them resolve matters.

“Condo associations in Florida may opt to be formed as for-profit or non-profit entities, whereas HOAs are legally required to be non-profit entities.” 

Housing Cooperatives

Housing cooperatives, sometimes called co-ops, differ from HOAs and condo associations in that the owners do not own individual units but instead each own a share in the community. The shares that they own provides them with a lease that grants permanent rights to live in a specified unit and to use the common areas of the cooperative according to the co-op’s bylaws and regulations.

Like condo associations, housing cooperatives in Florida can be organized as for-profit or not-for-profit corporations.

Entity formation, rights, obligations and other matters pertaining to housing cooperatives in Florida are typically looser than those of HOAs and condo associations.  Nonetheless, there are still protections offered to shareowners in collectives provided by the legal framework created by the Florida Cooperative Act, Florida. Statute. §719.101.  

Although co-ops nationally have been a real estate ownership option in the United States since the 1800s, many today still do not fully understand the nuances of the laws and regulations governing co-ops in their state.  If you are looking to own a co-op or if you are on the board of a co-op, it may be best to consult a lawyer who understands the specifics of co-op law. 

South Florida Law

The complexities of Florida’s HOA, condo association and co-op law make it difficult to navigate for even experienced board members and owners.  Be sure not to “go it alone”.  Here at South Florida Law we have boutique firm attention to detail with the big firm resources necessary to draft and review association and coop documents and represent individuals and associations alike.  Call us today at 305.900.8885 or reach out via our contact form.

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