Orlando HOA Attorneys for Your Community’s Every Need
Because of the evolving legal landscape it can often be challenging to understand the appropriate application of laws and regulations governing these types of communities.
We help homeowner associations with everything from drafting by-laws and articles of incorporation to providing title services. Our experienced HOA attorneys provide real estate, business and litigation services to community associations. Working with our attorneys early in the development process can minimize the potential for future litigation, preserve resources, and protect community cohesion.
Legal Services We Provide HOAs
HOAs, and other community associations, are responsible for both enacting and enforcing the legal and contractual rights of community owners. This involves multiple areas of real estate law, contract law, business law, and even constitutional law. Further, most Florida community associations, or HOAs, must resolve owner disputes, interpret contracts, maintain the premises, make repairs, ensure the safety of residents, and implement emergency response procedures. Community rules and regulatory covenants must also be uniformly interpreted and applied.
Having an HOA attorney assist you, one well versed in the laws and regulations governing HOAs and other community associations, will help effectuate solutions that benefit everyone; including, community members and board officers; reducing the potential for disputes.
Whether your HOA needs general counsel, contractual interpretation assistance, enforcement advice, dispute resolution services, or fee collection administration we can help you.
We provide a broad array of legal services to Homeowner associations including:
- Charter the HOA under Florida law and ensuring compliance with corporate rules of fiduciary duties.
- Draft and amend founding documents, including the Declaration, Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, and Covenants
- Revise, or interpret governing documents
- Render legal opinions on the interpretation and enforceability of By-Laws and Covenants under Florida law
- Enforce a covenant or declaration in a governing document
- Impose late charges for HOA fees or imposing special assessments on unit owners who reside in the community
- Help collect special assessments from unit owners that are delinquent
- Help resolve a legal dispute via litigation, mediation, or arbitration
- Draft contracts and litigate disputes between third-party vendors and developers
- Assist with construction contracts and developer or turnover issues
- Help resolve legal disputes that arise between one more unit owners and the HOA
- Help deal with problematic issues in the community, such as break-ins, vehicle damage, noise issues, pet issues (e.g., barking dogs or dog owners failing to clean up after their pets) and parking issues
- Help resolve discrimination disputes
- Assist with terminating a legal contract
- Resolve legal issues that relate to election abuse or fraud
Common Types of Lawsuits Involving HOAs
The majority of owner disputes arise when a restrictive covenant is breached. These covenants are often contained in the deed itself. Therefore, duly recorded covenants are enforceable in a court of law. Community associations are tasked with enforcing these restrictive covenants, which are designed to ensure the community’s uniformity, upkeep, and quality of life. These covenants are designed to help maintain property value and/or serve the needs of a particular social group, i.e., age-restricted communities.
Not all disputes involve community owners. Third-party vendor lawsuits, construction defect claims, insurance disputes, and developer litigation can drain association resources. Hiring general counsel for your community association may prevent various lawsuits, saving you money and promoting community cohesion. However, there are times when litigation is unavoidable.
Common types of HOA related lawsuits:
- Enforcement of Governing Documents: Occasionally, owners will challenge the validity, legality, and interpretation of governing documents. They may claim a provision is unconstitutional, not applicable, or wrongly enforced.
- Discrimination Lawsuits: Not all community association covenants are legally enforceable. Covenants that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality are unconstitutional. However, age and medical restrictions are permissible. Litigation may arise when residents or potential residents disagree with ownership or use prohibitions. Federal lawsuits arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Fair Housing Act commonly challenge community association regulations.
- Foreclosure and Collection Litigation: Delinquency litigation and, if necessary, foreclosure proceedings are common lawsuits necessitating a community association attorney. HOAs may put a lien on delinquent properties, and you’ll need an attorney to represent your right to collect overdue fees during foreclosure proceedings.
- Corporate and Fiduciary Duty Disputes: Certain community associations are corporations by law. As such, the board of directors owes corporate fiduciary duties to member-owners. Owners have the right to sue certain community associations for breaching this common law duty, and an experienced HOA attorney can help advocate for and protect HOA board members.
- Third Party Claims: Sometimes litigation arises due to non-member conduct. For example, contractors may breach a landscaping agreement, or warranty disputes may arise against the developer.
Why Your HOA Needs an Attorney?
Most buyers purchasing property in deed-restricted communities are drawn by the uniformity of appearance and use guidelines governing the neighborhood. Owners may also benefit from access to regulated common areas and amenities, community maintenance, and emergency protections. Florida leads the United States in community association membership with almost 48,000 community associations across the Sunshine State.
Despite the complex nature of restrictive convents and community ownership, volunteers run most HOAs. These unpaid owners are seldom attorneys. Instead, they’re community owners committed to maintaining the quality of their homes. They deserve the same right to quietly enjoy their property as the remaining association members, but it’s difficult when they have the thankless task of enforcing community by-laws and covenants. An experienced Florida HOA lawyer can draft, interpret, and even enforce community association restrictions. HOA attorneys may provide the following services on the association’s behalf:
An HOA attorney is especially important during fee enforcement proceedings and financial disputes. Having a neutral party handle defaulting members promotes neighborly cohesion while protecting the legal rights of all members. Most owners don’t relish confronting their neighbors about financial reproductions. HOAs may place a lien on the property of a member who fails to pay dues, which requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.
A qualified Florida HOA attorney can also answer common legal questions board members cant. HOA membership disputes often involve matters of contract interpretation, which is reserved for attorneys. Non-lawyers cannot advise owners as to the legal interpretation and enforceability of HOA provisions, but experienced Florida community association attorneys will be familiar with HOA-specific case law. Florida is on the forefront of community association law, which means thousands of community association cases are litigated in Florida courts each year.
Community Association Laws and Regulations
A “community association” consists of participating property owners in a single community whose deeds contain property use restrictions. These restrictions generally require community owners to abide by regulations established by the developer and future regulations enacted by the community association, typically through an elected board of directors.
Community associations are controlled by a set of governing documents, which include:
- A Declaration, which describes the nature of the restricted property
- By-Laws, which typically govern the association structure, elections, power, and finances as well as common area use, maintenance fees, and dues
- Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. These typically control the sale and use of the individual properties. They may prohibit major structural changes, unauthorized transfers, seasonal rentals, and certain pets
Types of Community Associations
Different laws govern each type of community association, but they generally abide by the same principles of restrictive ownership and community enforcement. Florida recognizes five types of community associations:
- Homeowner Associations (“HOAs”): A Florida corporation responsible for operating a subdivision where voting rights are vested in property owners and membership is a condition of ownership. HOAs have statutory authority to impose HOA assessments that, if unpaid, can become a lien on the owner’s property.
- Condominium (“Condo”) Associations: The entity responsible for (1) operating and maintaining the common elements and areas of a property owned in undivided shares and (2) operating and maintaining any real property in which unit owners have use rights provided the association consists only of unit owners and membership is a condition of ownership.
- Mobile Home Associations: A homeowners’ association by definition charted by at least 2/3rds of all mobile home owners that, after establishment, encompasses all mobile home owners on the development or subdivision.
- Co-Operatives (“Co-ops”): The corporation that is the record owner or leaseholder of the cooperative property and is responsible for its operation.
- Vacation and Timeshare Associations: An owners association consisting of all owners of a timeshare interest, subsequent purchases, and developers.
Why Hire Walsh Banks Law
As the Orlando area continues to grow, HOAs and community associations are becoming increasingly commonplace in newer single family home and townhome developments. If you are a unit owner or an association, you want to have a complete understanding of all the legal documents involved. You also want to ensure that you understand all of the rules and regulations – as well as your rights and obligations – under your community’s governing documents. Finally, you want experienced legal representation on your side in the event a dispute arises between homeowners/unit owners and the association.
When it comes to working out issues and disputes, you should look no further than the experienced lawyers at Walsh Banks Law. Our skilled attorneys have been representing both unit owners and associations for many years and pride themselves on offering thorough, result-oriented legal representation and practical solutions to legal disputes. Contact us today to find out how we might be able to assist with your legal matter.