A homeowners' community association (HOA) has the right to levy fines against a member who commits a violation of the governing agreement. Examples might be failure to comply with aesthetic regulations, or failure to pay for agreed-upon services.
However, Florida homeowners’ association laws set statues about the type of action and amount of fines that can be levied against a community member.
Adverse Actions That May Be Taken Against Florida HOA Members
A refusal to comply with governing documents of the community or the rules of the association is grounds for action by the association, or a member against another member. The other member must own a parcel within the community, or be a member’s tenants or guests who use the common areas.
Under state law, an HOA can take the following actions against members:
- Fines. An association is allowed to charge reasonable fines of up to $100 per violation against a member—or any member’s tenant, guest, or invitee—for the violation of provisions in the association bylaws or regulations in the governing documents. Fines may continue to be levied by the board for each day that the violation continues, as long as the total assessed for the violation doesn't exceed $1,000.
- Use of common areas. If a member hasn't paid a fee, fine, or other monetary obligation to the association within 90 days of assessment, the association may suspend the member or guest’s right to visit common areas or use facilities until the fee is paid in full.
- Voting rights. The HOA may suspend the voting rights of a member who hasn't paid fees or fines that are over 90 days delinquent. A suspended member won't have the right to participate in voting during an election to the board, approve an action, or form a quorum until he or she has remitted full payment of all financial obligations due to the association.
- Liens. A housing association typically has a right of lien on each parcel within the property to secure the payment of fines and assessments. Associations cannot file a claim of lien for fines or outstanding debts of less than $1,000. Once the claim is filed, the lien may be used to secure any unpaid assessments as well as interest, late charges, and reasonable costs incurred in the collection process.
Before an HOA can file a record of lien, it must provide the parcel owner with a written demand that totals the amount of past due assessments; the reason for the assessments; and notify the owner of intent to assert a claim of lien. The notice must be mailed or handed to the owner at least 45 days before the lien may be foreclosed to allow the owner an opportunity to make payment for all amounts due.
Options for Members in Financial Disputes With an HOA
While the HOA has a right to collect unpaid assessments from members, members also have rights in disputes with the association. For instance, a member can take action against an association—even if he or she hasn't paid an assessment—for:
- Failing to provide notice. In most cases, a member cannot be assessed a fine or denied rights unless he or she was given at least 14 days’ notice to address and correct the problem.
- Failing to convene a hearing. Florida law requires members to have an opportunity for a hearing before a committee of at least three impartial members of the HOA board. If the majority of the committee doesn't approve a proposed fine or suspension, it may not be imposed on the member.
- Imposing or enforcing the fine. If a member takes the HOA to court over a fine or lien and prevails, the member is entitled to recover court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and other litigation expenses from the association.
Our Expertise Can Help You
If you're involved in a dispute between a homeowners' association and a member, please give us a call today. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience representing homeowners and their associations through all aspect of their business operations. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation.