Required Work Done, But Association Balks

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune


Published: Feb 16, 2006

Kerry Rothschild needed homeowners insurance.

After filing a claim to take care of a sinkhole that opened in front of his house, Rothschild's insurance company, Allstate Insurance, gave him a list of things he could install to make sure his coverage continued.

Among the company's suggestions were storm impact windows and doors, which have thick glass meant to sustain high winds. Deed restrictions for Westmont Oaks, the 106-unit, gated neighborhood where Rothschild has lived since 2003, do not prohibit such windows.

In August, Rothschild said he filed the necessary paperwork with the association so he could get approval for the installation. The association made multiple requests for more information about the windows and doors, Rothschild said, but never gave an approval or denial.

With no answers and a looming deadline from his insurance company, Rothschild went ahead with the installation.

Only then did the association respond, Rothschild said, through its attorney, Anne Hathorn, who said the problem is that Rothschild actually did not file a proper request with the association's architectural review board.

Although no fines have been levied and no legal action has been taken against Rothschild, Hathorn said the association wants him to follow the proper procedures.

"As far as the association is concerned, if he just submits a proper request, this will be over," she said.

Rothschild maintains that he did follow the process laid out in his association documents, and has no plans to file more requests or remove his doors and windows.

The paperwork and approval process dispute is another example of homeowners associations taking their power too far, said Jan Bergemann of Cyber Citizens for Justice, an organization that works with residents who have association disputes.

Associations shouldn't stand in the way of a homeowner who needs to protect his house, Bergemann said.

"They don't help anybody but the attorneys and create a lot of havoc in the community," he said.