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Community living: Reinstating and enforcing the rules

Starting over with reinstatement and enforcement of the rules

Q: Could you please answer this question for me concerning governing documents for homeowners associations? As we know, statutory laws have certain statute of limitations pertaining to same. Do certain HOA governing documents also have statute of limitations? I ask because some members of the association have had things done to their parcels several years ago which are contrary to the architectural rules. Now, some other members of the association are changing the present board to take action about these violations. Rule violations have been neglected by other boards for years. Can the present board force corrections to these violations?

A: There is an old saying: If you sleep on your rules, you lose the right to enforce the rules. The legal term is called laches. Laches is a doctrine providing a party an equitable defense where long neglected rights are sought to be enforced. Each violation would have the defense upheld or denied in court by a judge. There is no one answer to apply to all cases. What I suggest is that the board sends a communications to each owner that the rules and regulations are to be reinstated and enforced. Each case of a violation will be grandfathered on a case-by-case situation, as you said that some have not enforced violations for years. My guess is that you will not be able to enforce those rules. You should so note and move forward. Documents do not have statute of limitations but the enforcement actions may.

Where to find the statute covering rental charges

Q: I rent the land in my mobile home park. The rent is $600 per month and each year I am sent a bill for the taxes on the lot. This year's bill was $200 higher and also included a charge of $500 for repairs to the clubhouse and pool area. I cannot find a statute or law that covers these charges. Is it legal to send us a bill for these charges? Where do I find these statutes or laws that allow these costs?

A: You can call the state at (850) 488-1122 to obtain a copy of the statutes or go to www.leg.state.fl.us and download the statute. The statute for condominiums is FS 718, for cooperatives it is FS 719, for homeowner associations FS 720, for timeshares FS 721 and for mobile home rental parks FS 723. My guess is that you would fall under FS 723. As to the charges, more than likely that would be a section covered in your lease. As a renter, you signed a lease and must comply with the terms. However, your specific costs should be allowed in FS 723. I am often asked for opinions on a specific association and that is a question I cannot answer as I am not familiar with your association or the documents or the rules and in your case the lease.

Responsibility for roof repair designated in documents

Q: I live in a townhome association and recently had damage to my home by lightning. Though there was no fire, I did have a hole in my roof. The next morning I called the president to report the problem. He told me to call our manager. Our manager provided me with the name of a roofer and came to inspect the hole.

Our manager then told me that the association would not help due to the information contained in the documents. The manager refused my suggestion to inspect the inside to view the hole. I am a widow and live alone and need help.

Is this all I receive from my homeowner community association? How simple is it to help to repair the hole? A friend advised me to send a letter to the management's insurance to repair the damage. Why do they not do anything to help?

A: This is a document requirement. If the documents say that the association is responsible for such damage, then you would file a claim with the association's insurance company. If the documents say the roof is the owner's responsibility then you must file a claim with your homeowner's insurance.

Management has no responsibility to make such repairs as that decision would be the board of directors' if the documents so state. I assume that your manager gave you the name of the roofer because that roofer had worked in your community and knew the buildings and their roofs. Your homeowner community association is responsible for the common areas and those areas so designated in the documents. If the documents do not place the responsibility for this damage under the association, then you must make the repairs yourself. Lightning is an act of God and no one has liability for the accident. The responsibility for the repairs in your community for this event should be found in your documents.

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leg.state.fl.us

Community living: Reinstating and enforcing the rules 10/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 18, 2010 11:16am]

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