HOAs/Condos Required to Have Formal Dispute Resolution Policy
It’s not uncommon for presidents of HOAs and condo owners to have to deal with disputes from time to time. Homeowners and renters may not agree with rulemakers about certain things, such as fees, regulations, pets, decorations and generally bad behavior from others.
When HOA and condo disputes occur, some states require that there be formal policies in place to resolve them. States such as Illinois and California have guidelines for resolving disputes. Florida regulates the process for disputes as well. In fact, the laws in Florida have taken effect in many areas across the country.
For condos, the state mandates pre-suit arbitration. For HOAs, pre-suit mediation is required. This applies only to disputes where the unit owner intends to take action with a unit or the common elements. There are exceptions, though. For example, this process is not for disputes regarding collection of assessments or breaches of a warranty. Associations need to ensure they follow these procedures or their lawsuit will get kicked out of court.
While associations are not required by law to create a written dispute resolution policy, it is highly recommended. Associations should have a clear policy and process in place so tenants and homeowners know what to expect should a dispute ever arise.
Winning a Dispute
Not every HOA or condo dispute requires arbitration, mediation or litigation. Sometimes communication after a problem occurs goes a long way. The association cannot fix the problem if they don’t know about it. However, acting hostile is not the way to go.
Instead, act pleasant and be respectful. If you did not know what you did wrong, ask for clarification of the rules. Have a conversation with the president or the board. In general, they do not want to punish people; they just want them to follow the rules.
However, you want to protect yourself, so document everything. If you send letters or emails, keep copies. If someone says something, make note of it. Jot down any other notes that might be helpful should you need to go to court, such as witness statements. Photos may be helpful as well in certain situations.
While you might not be in agreement with the rule, don’t argue it. It won’t change it and it will only make matters worse. Follow the rules for now, but if you sincerely believe a rule does not make sense, start a petition and ask your neighbors to sign it.
Seek Legal Help
Even though Florida requires HOAs and condos to have a policy in place to resolve disputes, sometimes these cases require litigation. If your case cannot be resolved outside of court, you need someone on your side who understands the real estate laws that apply and what rights you have as a renter or homeowner.
Seek legal help from Fort Lauderdale HOA dispute lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. He is not afraid to negotiate on your behalf and fight for you in court. To schedule a consultation, call 954-764-4330 or fill out the online form.