Five Rights Your HOA or Condo Association Is Required To Respect
Homeowner Associations (HOAs) and Condominium Associations are very unique in that are often run by elected individuals who have little legal and real estate experience.
Nevertheless, HOAs and Condo are governed by complex laws that specify certain rights and obligations to residents. Board members and staff of HOAs and Condo Associations must abide by these laws even though they may not be aware of them.
Here is a selection of five requirements with which, by law, your Florida HOA or Condo Association is required to comply. (It is important to note that the information below is not legal advice. Protect your rights by contacting an attorney in the case of a dispute with your HOA or Condo Association.)
#1 Allow flag display. HOAs must allow you to display a flag of the US, of Florida and a flag of the US Armed Forces (including the US Department of Defense services and US Coast Guard). Condo Associations are required to allow the national flag and military service flags only to be flow on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. No bylaws or display rules applicable to other flags can be made to supersede these permissions. However, the size, number and height of the flags displayed are subject to specific guidelines. It is important that tenants exercising their right to fly their national, state and military flags do so within the guidelines outlined by statute.
#2 Permit public criticism. Permit you to speak freely against them in a public forum. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are legal actions that Condo and Housing Associations and other organizations used in the past to scare members of the public into staying quiet. SLAPPs, in effect, are prohibited in Florida. In addition to being prohibited in general in FS 768, SLAPPs are also specifically mentioned in FS 718 (for condo associations) and FS 720 (for homeowner associations). Are you or is another person you know currently being sued by a condo association or HOA? If such a suit is a SLAPP, it should be “expeditiously disposed” in court. In addition, it is unlawful for any HOA or association funds to be spent on a SLAPP lawsuit.
#3 Allow accessibility ramps. If you are disabled, your HOA must allow you to build a ramp to assist in gaining reasonable access to your property. Know that your accessibility needs as a resident of an HOA are protected by statute in the state of Florida. A number of limitations apply though, so it is essential that you consult an experienced HOA and Condo association lawyer to understand the specific accessibility rights applicable in your particular case.
“Board members and staff of HOAs and Condo Associations must abide by these laws even though they may not be aware of them.”
#4 Follow strict fining guidelines. These requirements include giving 14 days’ notice before a fine is issued, limiting single violations to no more than $100 and ensure that recurring charges for any single violation do not exceed $1,000 in aggregate.
#5 Refrain from discrimination. HOAs and Condo Associations must adhere to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and similar local laws. Federal and state laws protect certain classes from discrimination: age, color, disability, familial status, marital status, national origin, race, religion or sex. In some cases, Florida HOA and Condo Association law also protects renters from discrimination bias towards residents who own their property. Work with your legal counsel to know if you are protected in certain situations and if any actions taken have violated your civil rights.
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
Nima Ajabshir, Esq. is the Managing Partner at South Florida Law, with an emphasis in Real Estate Law. Mr. Ajabshir received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida State University, where he graduated Cum Laude. Mr. Ajabshir, Esq. attended and received his Juris Doctorate from St. Thomas University School of Law. In addition to being an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Florida, Mr. Ajabshir, Esq. has his real estate license, so he has experience in both the legal and transactional facets of Florida real estate.