Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Victory for Tenants!!!

I just received a telephone call from a tenant who had previously called me for advice. Her condo association was demanding she pay them rent, under the new law, because her landlord was past due in assessments and when she refused they filed a court action to evict her. I advised her that unless the Declarations stated the association was organized pursuant to Fla. Stat. 718 "as amended from time to time," the association could not evict her as they had no authority and a new law could not be applied retroactively to change the Declarations. The judge threw out the eviction case!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Building A Better Community

It interesting how one HOA election can turn life into your community into a living hell.  It's also interesting how the power of a few people can use the election process to change that living hell back into a community you are proud to be living in.

After years of fighting my own battles with my own HOA I was pleasantly surprised when my husband produced enough proxy votes at our annual meeting to have the first election since we bought our home in 1998.  With a majority of the votes he was able to oust the old board and put in some fresh people, including himself as President.  That was something I never would have expected. Our experience made him very anti-HOA.

We were shocked to learn that our HOA had been spending three times the amount of money on landscaping as it had spent on police patrols.  With nine homes robbed in two months, we didn't see the point of having a nice looking community that no one felt safe living in, so the first thing the new board did was hire private security.  Not that local law enforcement were not doing a good job, but private security is $15 a hour less than police patrols.  And the guys with PCI Security are amazing.  Our neighbors are relieved and grateful.  It's nice to see happy, smiling faces in the community again.

The new board also listened to owners who tried to pay their past due assessments and were refused with threats of foreclosure by the HOA.  Not any more!!!  Not only is it illegal to refuse payments, but who in their right mind wants to foreclose on a home when the owner is trying to pay!  The new board has terminated services with the association attorney and put a moratorium on foreclosures and covenant violations until they can review each case.

I'm proud of the new board with their slogan "Neighbors Helping Neighbors."  That's the way it should be.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Condo Board Members Must Be Certified!

Under the revised provision of Fla. Stat. 718, known as the Condominium Act, board members of condominiums must submit a certified written statement that they have read the governing documents of the association and the Florida Statutes and understand them to the best of their ability, or have a certificate from a class providing training that has been approved by the Department of Business & Professional Regulations.  This certified writing or certificate must be on file within 90 days of the board member taking office or the board member will be suspended from the board automatically.  The certificate must be kept by the association for five years and the board member must provide a new certificate after five years if they are still on the board.

Mortgage Foreclosure Audits

The U.S. Treasury has begun, on November 1, 2011, sending out letters to homeowners, who were foreclosed on during 2009 and 2010, to provide them with information regarding a free audit of their foreclosure and possible compensation if the foreclosure was improperly conducted.

The process is slow and results are not immediate, but it expected that more than 3 million letters will go out to homeowners over the next few months.

Most of the big banks and foreclosure companies entered into a consent agreement as a result of an investigation and a consent order issued by the U.S. Treasury, Office of Comptroller.  The consent order was issued in April of 2011.

For more information visit the Comptroller's website:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marketable Record Title Act ("MRTA")

The Marketable Record Title Act ("MRTA"), known as "MARTA", is getting a lot of attention these days as older homeowner associations (HOAs) are reaching their thirty-year anniversary. Under MRTA, deed restrictions expire after thirty years unless the HOA takes proactive steps to preserve them or revitalizes them after they have expired.

There is a lot of controversy with associations that did file a Notice of Preservation, but failed to comply with the statute, making their notices defective.   It is important to review the statute for the year in which the preservation was recorded because it has changed substantially.  Previously, the statute required the members, by majority vote, approve a new set of Declarations and those Declarations could not be more restrictive than the originals.  The current statute allows for the Board of Directors to vote to preserve the deed restrictions, but there are still notice requirements and filing requirements that are sometimes overlooked.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HUD Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP)

HUD Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP)

New Change to HOA Law

First the Florida Statute governing homeowner associations, Fla. Stat. § 720 et seq. provided the HOAs with the authority to suspend your use of amenities (the pool, clubhouse, tennis court, etc.) if you were niney (90) days delinquent in paying your assessments. [Fla. Stat. § 720.305(2)] Then it was changed to give the HOAs the authority to do the same if you were late paying any monetary obligation, including fines. Thanks to our elected leaders, the statute giving HOAs the statutory right to impose fines was overturned. 

NOW, beginning in July 1, 2011, your HOA has the authority, by statute (and this will be important later) to deny you the right to use the amenities if you have any outstanding covenant violation.  So, if they want to keep you out of the pool, they can issue violations for not cutting your grass, or planting landscaping without their approval.  It still requires a hearing before a three-member committee that is no relation to board members, but that part of the statute is not allows complied with by the HOA.

It is important to keep in mind these legislative changes do not affect your HOA unless your Declaration of Restrictive Covenants refers to Fla. Stat. § 720 and adds the magic words "as amended from time to time."  Thanks to the Florida Supreme Court ruling in Cohn v. The Grand Condominium(36 Fla. L. Weekly S129a, March 31, 2011,  homeowners still have a fighting chance.