200 Bird Key Dr, Sarasota FL 34236

Bird Key Homeowners Association, Inc.
Bird Key
Bird Key Homeowners Association

My HOA is Harassing Me! What Should I Do?

Florida HOA laws are among the most complex in the nation. For example, your community could be protected and guided by rules laid out by the Florida Homeowners Association, The Condominium Act, or the Cooperative Act. No matter which set of rules your HOA is governed by, that HOA will need to provide all residents in the community with fair and ethical treatment.

HOAs are not put in charge of communities to bully property owners into doing things that they arbitrarily determine are right. However, suppose your HOA is acting outside the boundaries of the laws governing these groups. In that case, you should consider hiring an attorney. You can count on your lawyer to help defend your rights and to help you to hold the HOA accountable for discriminatory or harassing acts of various kinds.

What Kinds of Actions Are HOAs Not Allowed to Take?

HOAs in Florida have come under scrutiny in an effort to address some long-standing problems that were not expressly forbidden under HOA law. HOAs are not permitted to take any actions against community residents that violate Florida's Fair Housing Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, or the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. These laws all deal with discriminatory practices in housing sales and management and state that no one can be discriminated against due to their age, sex, race, skin color, religion, pregnancy, national origin, handicap, or marital status. HOAs cannot make any of the following decisions under these guidelines:

  • Refuse to sell or rent to someone
  • Falsely deny someone housing due to an inspection or a lack of availability of a property that is not unavailable
  • Refuse to make a mortgage or housing loan
  • Impose conditions that are not impacting others in the same neighborhood
  • Threaten, coerce, or intimidates anyone who is looking to secure housing or to exercise their rights as a property owner within the community
  • Refuse to make changes to a property to meet the needs of a disability 

These same guidelines impact those selling homes, those renting, and those managing properties. HOAs occupy a unique space in the housing world because they are charged with maintaining neighborhood common areas and the appearance of the community. However, they can also be given the power to compel people to change their property. While the HOA is not the property owner, these groups have limited control over homeowners' actions in an HOA-managed community.

Common problems in HOA-managed neighborhoods in Florida related to HOAs taking actions that are not legally provided to them within their charter or their bylaws. These actions might be actively harassing a homeowner to resolve a stated issue with the property before the end of the allotted time period they were given to rectify the problem. Some homeowners have been forbidden to fly a flag they want to display or told they could not have a service or comfort animal.

HOAs are also out of compliance with the law when they refuse to build accommodations for those who require them. In some cases, fines have been leveled against property owners that are not provided for within the HOA's charter.

The problems in the HOA management reality in Florida were mainly linked with older HOAs which were not willing to conform to changing HOA standards and laws. These were communities that were often discriminatory to their members, and there were significant problems related to race that was built into the guidelines of these communities.

New Laws Will Improve HOA Guidelines and Practices

In 2020, Senate Bill No. 374 went into effect, which allowed Florida to create Fla. Stat. § 712.065. This new statute forbids HOAs from engaging in discriminatory practices and states that discriminatory actions are not enforceable via state law. This statute bolsters the civil rights laws already on the books and makes violating these standards a much more severe action on any HOA or property management group.

The new law seeks to give community residents and property owners the right to defend themselves against an HOA that is behaving in an illegal way. This new set of strictures and rules is intended to clean up and improve the behavior of community management and HOA entities which have made it impossible for people to seek housing in specific communities for years.

Will the New Laws Create Immediate Change?

The goal of the new laws was to let homeowners and community residents fight for their rights. Indeed, these laws were passed with the goal of HOAs and other property management groups to rewrite their own bylaws to remove discriminatory language that should never have been included. However, the reality is that many HOAs and property management boards still act outside the scope of their legal power when managing their community.

It is still quite common for HOAs to attempt to enforce illegal racial quotas, and limiting property owners from expressing their views via flags and other decorations continues to be a problem in older HOA-managed communities across Florida. Further issues continue to plague those with disabilities who are promised the right to access a home and cannot secure it due to roadblocks by HOAs.

If you have experienced any of the discriminatory practices that have been discussed, you will need to seek legal representation. Everyone in the state of Florida should be allowed the chance to live in peace and seek safe housing governed by fair laws. If you have been denied this right by an HOA acting outside of its legal rights, you can exercise your rights and secure legal representation to fight the HOA's actions.

Are There Any Reasons That an HOA Can Deny Someone Housing?

There are some legal reasons that HOAs can deny housing to someone or can take action against a current homeowner. The goal of the HOA-managed neighborhood is to maintain a clean and safe community and to make sure that everyone living in the neighborhood will maintain the guidelines set out in the bylaws. The screening process and the process to take action against a homeowner who violates the HOA agreement must be fully transparent and follow state and federal guidelines in every way. These are the allowable reasons that an HOA can take action against a homeowner or can deny someone the right to rent:

  • Violation of the rules that are contained in the HOA bylaws.
  • Past history of rule violations in other neighborhoods or issues with the law in prior living arrangements or HOA-managed communities.
  • Misrepresentation of the potential renter or buyer's criminal history or financial situation.
  • Buyer or renter who has applied to live in the community has been convicted of a felony for violent crimes or has taken actions in the past that led to crimes being committed on their property.
  • Buyer or renter's civil rights have not been restored.

HOA Governance Must be Done Lawfully in the State of Florida

As HOA discrimination cases are getting more attention than ever, you might have realized that you have been the victim of discriminatory acts in your HOA-managed community. You do not have to accept this kind of treatment, and the team at Lopez Law Group can help you to secure a resolution to your HOA discrimination case. There have been historical problems within HOA-managed communities in Florida for years, and the new laws that have been put in place were created to help to resolve these issues all across the state of Florida.

Discriminatory and harassing treatment should never be leveled against anyone who is attempting to secure housing or who is already living in an HOA-managed community. The bylaws and guidelines that HOAs are provided allow for the fair and equitable treatment of everyone within the community and of everyone applying to join it.

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