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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 27645
Experience:  Attorney
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I am president of our neighborhood association and we have

Customer Question

Hi. I am president of our neighborhood association and we have mandatory covenants and restrictions in our subdivision. Over the years there are a couple of C&R’s that we have voted on as an association to modify the restrictions. One of them is: all residents are required to park their vehiclesin the garage at night.1)We did away with that one because it is not doable with bigger families. We did not modify the document, just a verbal agreement at our meetings. However, in order to enforce all other C&R’s do we need to get that one change done legally on the document so we can enforce all the others? We have some residents that will NOT move trailers out of their yards and are parking in the grass and some not even doing their yards, etc.2) Do you know what steps we need to take to enforce C&R’s that are not upheld AFTER we have sent a series of letters. How much proof do we need for court( pics, letters, etc.) and do you know if the resident will be responsible for the costs since we will only be after correcting the breached C&R.3) Lastly, can we represent ourselves. We have a limited budget.Thank you SO much.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry that you're having this problem.

1. Choosing not to enforce one of the rules does not void all the rules. You could have an issue if you were selectively enforcing the rules based on who was violating them, but you have some discretion in how you choose to manage the community. You can still fine the homeowners who are breaking other rules.

2. You're allowed to levy reasonable fines for rule violations, up to $100. You're allowed to levy the fine every day until the member ends their violation, until they owe $1,000, as long as you first give them 14 days notice and an opportunity to request a hearing before a 3 person committee. Fl. Stat., Section 720.305. The committee must be comprised of "at least three members appointed by the board who are not officers, directors, or employees of the association, or the spouse, parent, child, brother, or sister of an officer, director, or employee". The same statute allows an HOA to suspend a member's right to use common areas and facilities based on the member's failure to follow the rules or if they are 90 days late in paying fines. However, you can't revoke their right to park or right to drive on roads that let them access their property or turn off utilities.

3. Unfortunately, no. An HOA is a non-profit organization and therefore must be represented by an attorney in court. However, if you have to sue the homeowners for payment of the fines, you're allowed to include a request that the home owner pay your attorney's fees. Fl. Stat., Section 720.305. And it's possible that if you send homeowners who are in violation a copy of the statute letting them know that you will go to court if necessary and ask the judge to pay your legal fees, they may be more willing to help you reach a resolution to save themselves some money. You CAN assess fines, send out letters, and hold the required hearings without hiring a lawyer.

In court, you're trying to prove that, more likely than not, the homeowner broke the rules. That means you'll need to introduce the rules themselves, along with any other associated documents, and pictures of the violation. Testimony of anyone who witnessed the violation could be helpful, but pictures or video are better.

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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi, on Oct 12, at 11:24 pm, I sent you some questions about our Covenants and Restrictions in our subdivision and violators of the C&R’s. I have another important question: Can you give me a ball park figure of what the costs will be for the following:consultation to retain a lawyer for our association - free?after we send our letter(s) to the resident(s), does the attorney take it from there to take the resident in violation to court?Once the judge agrees to the violation, how do we maintain the resident will do what the judge has instructed and what happens if they do not correct the violation. Example: parking in the yard, parking overnight in the street, trailers in the grass and driveways, etc. These are all violations.What rates will the attorney ( approximately) charge for taking these issues to court. Is it per resident or can they all be done at the same time? How costly will this get. We have 4-5 residents that we have to definitely do something about.We have an association meeting Monday evening this week and I wanted to be able to give an outline of the steps we need to take or consider. You help is greatly appreciated. If there is something I am skipping or leaving out that we need to do or consider, please let me know.Thank you!State/Country relating to question: Florida
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

I'm sorry, but we're not allowed to quote rates for you. Lawyer fees vary dramatically based on things like location, experience, how difficult the case is, and firm size. Call a few lawyers in your area to get an idea. Some lawyers will give a free consultation, but it's up to the individual.

If they don't correct the violation, you continue to fine them, and suspend their right to use common areas, as I noted above. If you wind up going to court to get a judgment for the fines, you can garnish their wages or put a levy on their checking account to collect the money. You can also use the judgment to put a lien on their homes, which means they can't sell or refinance until they pay. If all that doesn't convince them to change their behavior, then you can go back to court and file a Motion for Contempt.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Did you have any other questions about this?