HOA or Condo Association Disputes
Homeowners associations (HOAs) and condo associations, from time to time, end up in potential legal conflicts with their residents. These HOA or condo association disputes are often resolvable through means other than going to court. While residents may represent themselves in these disputes there are distinct advantages to hiring an attorney experienced in handling similar cases.
Know Your Rights as a Unit Owner
The key to bringing a successful case against an association is first knowing what rights one has as a property owner. According to Florida Law, there are specific rights that each association owner has that must be respected.
Having an attorney experienced in HOA or condo Association disputes will help greatly especially since they are likely to have represented unit owners or associations in a similar case.
Indeed, it is highly probable that the case falls into one of seven frequently encountered HOA or condo association disputes. These are:
- Denial of plans to develop a unit
- Election disputes
- Fines and violations
- Maintenance failures
- Pet-related disputes
- Resisting board actions
Filing an Official Complaint
It is entirely possible for a resident to represent herself in negotiations with and in filing a complaint against an HOA or condo association.
Residents may file a Condominium/Cooperative Complaint Form (PDF) directly with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes. Hardcopies of the form can be obtained by calling 1.800.226.9101 or 850.488.1122. Note that the toll-free number only works when the caller is making the call from a phone in Florida. When completing this form, it is important that residents list all allegations against their HOA or condo association, citing evidence in the form of documentation, photos and timelines.
This complaint form can then be mailed to:
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Alternatively, the complaint form can be sent via fax to 850.488.7149.
Within 30 days, the resident will be contacted by the Division to report on their review of the complaint. The Division will state in their report whether or not they have the authority by law to investigate the allegations made in the complaint and if so, whether additional information is needed.
While this process may seem simple at first sight, it is important to realize that there are a number of exceptions to the authority of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes. For example, in specific HOAs and condo associations, such as those who have experienced “developer turnover”, the Division is only able to investigate complaints related to elections, financial issues and access to association records. An experienced real estate lawyer that specializes in HOA and condo association disputes will be able to advise whether you have a viable case for complaint.
Suing your HOA? Not so fast …
In the vast majority of HOA or condo association disputes, unit owners cannot immediately sue their associations. Florida state law (in specific §718.501(1) and §719.501(1) of Florida Statutes) outlines a particular dispute resolution process that does not begin with traditional litigation as its first step. Instead, in the vast majority of cases, the homeowner is required to first attend a mediation session with the condo association or HOA with a view to resolving the conflict without going to court.
Other complaints, including those that were not successfully resolved in mediation may be resolved via an arbitration process or, in the minority of cases, through courtroom litigation.
Read how South Florida Law represents property owners and associations in mediation, arbitration and courtroom disputes.
“In the vast majority of HOA or condo association disputes, unit owners cannot immediately sue their associations.”
Leverage the advantage of using a lawyer
Homeowners do not need to go it alone. They can seek legal counsel to help better ensure their rights are protected throughout the process.
Are you experiencing a situation in which an HOA or condo association dispute seems likely? An attorney experienced in HOA or condo association disputes can represent your interests and discuss additional options if alternative dispute resolution is not fruitful.
South Florida Law
The complexities of Florida Housing Association and Condominium law make it difficult to navigate through the details of those and other rights and obligations of associations and their tenants. If you find yourself involved in a dispute with your housing association, 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 take on a homeowner or condo association that is violating your rights. Call us today at 305.900.8885 or reach out via our contact form.