DEVELOPER-CONTROLLED HOA LEVIES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT FOR LEGAL FEES
HARBOR HILLS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published June 8, 2010
It's always amazing to see when especially people that deal professionally with homeowners’ associations try to ignore the Florida Statutes regulating these HOAs. They know full well that nobody is enforcing the statutes anyway and most homeowners don't have the money to enforce the statutes in court or defend themselves against unjust demands. Especially developers seem to have the tendency to plainly ignore the provisions of FS 720.
Florida Statutes 720 contains many provisions that are specifically valid for so-called developer-controlled associations, meaning associations that are not fully built out and the association board consists of members appointed by the developer. FS 720.303(8) clearly states that legal fees are the responsibility of the developer, as long as he/she controls the association. Admittedly, not everybody knows it, but a developer who hired a law firm to sue a homeowner for libel and/or slander and is otherwise involved in all kinds of lawsuits should take the time to confer with his law firm about specific provisions in FS 720.
If you missed these few important words in the letter "unanticipated factors such as the unexpected closing of the previous management company," or didn't understand the meaning, here is a little explanation for these few innocent-sounding words:
According to developer Michael Rich, a former management company, Kravetz Realty Group, LLC, embezzled $126,000. This management company had been hired by developer Michael Rich, much to the dismay of some of the homeowners. Here are two paragraphs of a letter, written before the embezzlement finally occurred. Did the author of the letter already see the writing on the wall?
According to some other correspondence, not only money "disappeared." Records disappeared with the money as well.
And despite the opposition of the owners against hiring this out-of-state management company, developer Michael Rich now expects these same owners to pay for the losses caused by his hiring this management company.
The economy is bad, the real estate market even worse and many developers are in financial trouble. Does that mean that developers should be allowed to ignore the current Florida Statutes and assess homeowners to pay for financial deficits caused by the developers’ foolish decisions?