Condo Association & HOA Attorney
Exclusively representing Homeowners & Condominum Associations
Tackling Homeowners and Condominium Association Legal Issues!
Allison Brandt, PA, is the “go to” legal resource for Homeowners Associations in Greater Tampa Bay, and all of Florida. Sometimes, Community Associations need simple collection services due to a homeowner not taking care of their obligations. Homeowners Associations sometimes need help crafting or amending Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or “CC&Rs”. Most often, though, having an HOA attorney in your back pocket usually means fewer headaches for the association and greater compliance and clarity for the homeowners.
1219 Millennium Pkwy
Brandon, FL 33511-3896
Allison J. Brandt, P.A.
When you need an attorney that will “buckle down” and do what is necessary to maintain the health of your Homeowners, or Condominium Association Association, and the community it services, you’ll need Allison J. Brandt. Allison left large legal practices to launch Allison J. Brandt, PA for one specific reason. With the big firms, she was not allowed the luxury of the time it takes to give personal service to her clients. If you are “done” with production-line type service, and ready for a real legal partner that will help you through the maze of Condominium and HOA law, it’s time to set an appointment with Allison.
Homeowners & Condo Association Services
Enforcement Of Violations Of The Association's Governing Documents
Collection of Delinquent Assessments
Vendor Contract Review And Negotiation
Comprehensive Full-Service Community Association Law Firm
# of Florida HOAs
Residents Living in HOA
Homes In Florida HOAs
Helping HOAs Be Great!
Florida has the second-highest number of Homeowners Associations and Condo Associations in the country.
Every community has its own distinct history, personality, characteristics, and challenges, but all organizations share common characteristics and fundamental values. Good associations preserve the distinct characteristics of their neighborhoods, protect property values, and meet the established needs of homeowners. Furthermore, excellent associations foster a genuine sense of community, encourage engaged homeowner participation, and foster an atmosphere of informed consensus. As your HOA and Community Association attorney, Allison believes these goals are best achieved when everyone knows and adheres to the “rules of the road.”
Homeowners & Condominium Association Legal Issues
The law firm of Allison J. Brandt, P.A. offers legal representation for a wide variety of issues that impact Homeowners Associations & Condo Assocations including:
- Abandoned Property
- Accessory Dwelling Units
- Age-Restricted/55+ Communities
- Alcohol Sales on Property
- Amendment Process for Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants
- Amendments To Governing Documents
- Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)/Fair Housing Act (FHA) – Federal And State
- Architectural Review
- Assessments and Debt Collection Practices
- Association Incorporation
- Balcony Regulations
- Board Regulations and Rules
- Building Inspection and Maintenance
- Common Area Issues
- Community Security
- Covenant Enforcement
- COVID-19 Debt Collection
- COVID-19 Evictions
- COVID-19 Face/Masks
- COVID-19 Liability
- DBPR Compliance
- Developer Control & Transition
- Disaster Relief for Community Associations
- Dispute Resolution, Court, and Mediation Process
- Elections & Recalls
- Electric Vehicle Charging Station Regulations
- Environmental Compliance
- Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA)
- Flags & Political Signs
- Foreclosure And Lien Priority Procedures
- Government Registration of Community Associations
- Home Based Businesses
- Homeowner Property Rights
- Insurance Coverage and Risk Management
- Marketable Record Title Act
- Meeting Requirements & Procedures
- Nuisance Regulations (Noise/Smoking/Marijuana)
- Parking/Towing Regulations
- Pets and Assistance Animals including Emotional Support Animals
- Private Roads
- Rental Regulations
- Reserve Issues
- Termination of Community Association
- Vendor Contract Review and Negotiation
- Virtual Meetings
HOA Attorney Case Study
A client had a property in various stages of several mortgage foreclosures since 2010. The borrowers abandoned the property in 2009 but continued to participate in the court proceedings.
Through an incredibly unusual set of facts, the Association took title to the property in 2018.
The final mortgage foreclosure case ended with a sale. Surplus funds of over $95,000.00 remained. As a subordinate lienholder, under Florida law, the Association is generally entitled to a priority position to receive surplus funds to equal any delinquent assessments and other charges owed by the borrower.
However, because the Association was the owner of record on the day that the lis pendens was filed in the final mortgage foreclosure action, the Association made a claim for distribution of the entire surplus.
The borrowers made a competing claim for the surplus proceeds, believing that since they were the owners of record when the original first mortgagee foreclosure action was filed, that status carried through and entitled them to any surplus remaining after any delinquent assessments were paid to the Association.
At the hearing, because of the unusual facts and chronology of events, the judge asked us to submit Memorandums of Law in support of our positions.
Shortly after filing our respective Memorandums, the judge entered an Order granting our Motion for the entire amount of the surplus proceeds. The Order copied the Statement of Facts almost verbatim from the Association’s Motion.
The surplus funds not only reimbursed the Association for the past due assessments and other charges, but replenished their reserves, allowing them to remain financially stable for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
- WHAT LIMITATIONS ARE IMPOSED BY FLORIDA LAW ON AN ASSOCIATION'S SCOPE?
Board members can act on behalf of the HOA without a member vote regarding matters within the Association’s powers, as granted by the governing documents or statute, unless expressly limited by law or the governing documents. Florida Statute 720.303 (1).
Florida law gives the Association’s declaration and articles of incorporation significant deference when interpreting Association powers.
Associations are expressly prohibited from taking specific actions by the Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA), such as limiting flag display. Other activities necessitate the affirmative consent of a majority or super-majority of members, such as amending the Association’s declaration, suspending member rights, or initiating legal action in cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $100,000.
The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other applicable federal laws, must be complied with by all association actions and governing documents. The Association’s governing documents may further limit the board’s authority.
The board members’ and officers’ statutory fiduciary duty requires them to act in good faith, in the Association’s and its members’ best interests, and with ordinary caution when exercising their authority. Florida Statute 720.303 (1).
Additionally, homeowners can hold board members accountable through legal recall processes and elections at annual member meetings following the voting guidelines outlined in the declaration. Florida Statute 720.303 (10).
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act generally forbid property management companies from acting as “debt collectors.” In addition, Community Associations are forbidden from disclosing member information about assessments, even though Florida’s HAA does not expressly prohibit the Association from doing so.
Other state and federal laws protecting confidential information may also apply to sensitive identifying information about members. Records available for member review expressly do not include confidential member information. Stat. of Florida 720.303(5)(c) (5).
- HOW ARE FLORIDA'S HOMEOWNER AND CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS RULED?
Florida Homeowners and Condominium Associations are run by a board of directors (or just “board”). The declarant (usually the developer) chooses the first board members, who the homeowners then vote on according to the Association’s declaration of covenants (“declaration”).
A majority of the other members choose members of the board. However, elections aren’t needed if there are fewer or the same number of qualified candidates as there are open positions. Fla. Stat. §720.306 (9).
Members who are past due on any payments to the Association are not allowed on the board. Similarly, members convicted of a felony are also not allowed to serve on the board.
In turn, the board chooses officers to carry out the duties and powers of the board. Fla. Stat. §720.303 (2). Officers and directors have a duty of care to the members, so they must act in the best interests of the Association and the members and avoid self-dealing and conflicts of interest or risk termination. Fla. Stat. §§720.303(1).
A board member must certify in writing within 90 days of being appointed that they have read the HOA’s governing documents, will do their best to follow the Association’s rules, and will uphold the fiduciary duty owed to the members. Fla. Stat. §720.3033(1) (a).
The HAA and the community’s declaration give an HOA’s board duties and powers, such as enforcing covenants, assessing and collecting member fees, taking care of common areas, and representing the Association in legal matters.
The Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA) says that Florida associations can do everything their governing documents say they can unless the law says otherwise. Fla. Stat. §720.303 (1).
The Articles of Incorporation, a legal document made when the Association becomes a corporation, explain how the Association’s corporate structure works. Usually, the declaration, bylaws, or articles of incorporation state who can be an officer or board member and how long their terms last.
Most communities have terms that last one year. See, on the whole, Fla. Stat. 720.303 (2). In addition, community members can get the Association’s corporate status and a copy of the Association’s articles from the Florida Corporation.
The amount of control a developer has over a community’s HOA depends on how many of the community’s lots they still own. After 90% of the lots are sold, the developer gives control to the elected board. Members, not the developer, are allowed to vote for at least a majority of the board. Fla. Stat. §720.307. As long as the developer owns at least 5% of the lots, it can vote for at least one board member.
The Association’s declaration is filed with the county land records of the county where the Association is located. The Association’s Declaration lists:
- Association’s restrictions and covenants
- duties and powers of the board and officers
- how voting and elections work
- how assessments are calculated and collected
- any limits on the board’s or Association’s powers.
For example, Fla. Stat. 720.303 says that lot owners and anyone who lives in a home in the Association must follow the declaration. Fla. Stat. §720.305. If a member doesn’t follow the rules, the Association can file a lawsuit against them through the board to get back the money they owe the Association or get a court order to make them follow the rules. Fla. Stat. §720.3085. The owners of lots can also act against other owners who don’t follow the rules.
Association members have the right to vote on who should be on the board and whether or not covenants should be made or changed. At member meetings, which must happen at least once a year, people vote. Fla. Stat. §720.306 (2).
Members can vote in person or through someone else. Fla. Stat. §720.306 (8). Proxy votes must be made in writing, signed by the member, and include information about which meeting the vote is for. Fla. Stat. §720.306(8) (a). For a vote to happen, a quorum, or at least 30% of the people who could vote, must be present unless the community rules allow for a lower percentage. Fla. Stat. §720.306(1) (a).
The Association’s corporate structure is governed by its Articles of Incorporation. Articles of Incorporation are legal documents prepared when the Community Association becomes a corporation. The Articles include the term of service for officers and board members and their eligibility requirements.
Most communities provide annual terms. Fla. Stat. 720.303(2). A copy of the Association’s articles of incorporation and information about the Association’s corporate status can be obtained for free by visiting the Florida Corporation Commission.
Developer control of a community’s HOA diminishes as the community lots remaining under the developer’s control decrease. When only 10% of the lots remain owned by the developer, the developer turns over effective management to the elected board. Non-developer members are entitled to select at least a majority of the board. Fla. Stat. §720.307. The developer may have one board member (at least) if they control at least five percent of lots.
The Association’s declaration is recorded with the county courthouse land records where the Association is located. The declaration sets forth the Association’s restrictions and covenants and the duties and powers of the board and officers. It also defines Association voting and election procedures. Finally, the declaration outlines how to calculate and collect assessments, along with any restrictions on the capabilities of the board or Association. Fla. Stat. §720.303.
Lot owners and occupants of homes within the Association must adhere to the declaration. Fla. Stat. §720.305. If they don’t conform, Association, through the board, can bring action against the non-compliant member. In addition, the board can recover amounts owed to the Association or may compel compliance by court order. Fla. Stat. §720.3085. Individual lot owners may also bring actions against non-compliant owners.
Association members vote on association business, including the election of board members and the adoption or amendment of covenants. Voting occurs at member meetings, which must be held at least once yearly. Fla. Stat. §720.306(2).
Members may vote in person or by proxy. Fla. Stat. §720.306(8). Proxies must be written and signed by the member and state the specific meeting for which the proxy is intended. Fla. Stat. §720.306(8)(a). For a vote to occur, a quorum (at least thirty percent of possible voters unless community bylaws allow a lower percentage) must be present. Fla. Stat. §720.306(1)(a).
- HOW DO FLORIDA HOA ASSOCIATIONS AMEND THEIR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS?
The Florida Homeowners’ Association Act says that members must vote on changes to the association’s declarations. It takes at least a two-thirds vote to make a majority for an amendment of all members present at a meeting with a quorum. However, an HOA’s governing documents can set a different standard. Fla. Stat. §720.306(1) (b).
When a change is approved and written down, it goes into effect. Fla. Stat. §720.306(1) (e). Members must be given copies of any changed documents within 30 days of their adoption. Fla. Stat. §720.306(1) (b).
The rules for changing a Condominium Association’s declaration are laid out in Fla. Stat. 718.110.
- ARE FLORIDA COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS REQUIRED TO BE HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE?
Florida gives disabled people the right to build access ramps if they are medically necessary, as long as the ramp is as small and unobtrusive as possible. Fla. Stat. §720.304 (5).
Even though the Homeowners’ Association Act and the Condominium Act do not explicitly require handicapped parking and access, the federal Fair Housing Act protects member access in most cases by requiring “reasonable accommodations” to help disabled people get into housing.