Homeowners' Associations -
Voluntary or Mandatory?
By Jan Bergemann ( 6 - 5 - 2002 )

Florida - We have here in Florida still quite a lot of so-called Civic Associations or Voluntary Homeowners' Associations. They were mostly created in the 70's and 80's before the industry and the legislators realized what a great money-making business mandatory homeowners' associations really are. 

Quite a lot of the homeowners living in these voluntary associations have been happy until in recent times, when some busy-bodies felt that it was time for changes. These people come together and claim it's time to change the community. "Board meetings" are being held, Florida Statutes are plainly ignored, and the problems start!

Especially in the Orlando area homeowners complained recently that they received letters from "their" board, claiming that the former voluntary association has been changed into a mandatory association, new deed restriction have been established and please pay your dues immediately.
In a second and third letter threats of liens, foreclosures etc. have been added to these demands.
And all under the cover of a "majority" vote.

According to some Florida Court Rulings this is not the way it works. If you are a member of a voluntary association you can't be forced without your agreement to become a member of a mandatory association. Don't let these busy-bodies threaten or intimidate you!
They have absolutely no right to do so. As long as the deed to your property doesn't say that your property belongs to a mandatory association, nobody can force you.

And don't even consider joining this "Mandatory Club"! Many homeowners living in mandated properties would only be too happy to be able to get away from them.
Many law-suits all over the nation are proof of all the existing problems. It seems very obvious that this program has failed the homeowners badly and is only staying alive because the industry is fighting like crazy not to lose their valuable cash cow.

These people will tell you how great the advantages are of being a member of a mandatory association. No pink houses in your neighborhood, no old cars in the drive-ways and no flag poles in the neighbors' front yard. And your property values will go up in no time!

What they will definitely not tell you is that your money can be used to sue you, that you will be financially responsible for any of the association's liabilities and that other people, like these busy-bodies, have suddenly the right to tell you what to do and not to do on your own property.
They will tell you that your dues will be used to improve your neighborhood. They will not tell you that often more than 50% of the collected dues will be used to pay industry partisans like management companies and HOA attorneys.

And in regards of mandatory homeowners' associations raising property values?
Don't fall for this industry fairy tale! There are many examples which render this claim absolutely false! 

Texas Senate hearings revealed a recent study from Harris County, Houston, TX , which clearly proves that just the opposite is the case. Please see the well documented statistics at "Supporting Documents". Interesting Foreclosure Documents and Supporting Data can be found at : HOAdata.org .
And in case of a planned resale the title companies' search will reveal that your property belongs to a mandatory HOA. And since more and more home buyers realize what HOAs are all about, it may even hamper your resale intentions.

So, don't let these busy-bodies talk you into joining their new "invention". The day you regret it may be sooner than you think. 
Keep the freedom our nation was built upon, and value your independent property rights. Our government already is watching your actions, don't let a group of busy-bodies, unregulated and often power-hungry, create a dictatorship in your neighborhood! The rights granted to you as a member of a HOA, as stated in the Florida Statutes FS 720.301 - 312, are really hard to enforce and it may cost you a lot of time and money, if enforcement is possible at all.

Our legislators have so far failed to protect the rights of homeowners living in mandated properties and the industry is well entrenched in Tallahassee.

If you are a homeowner in a situation as described above, don't let them threaten or intimidate you. You do have RIGHTS !

And it's easier to fight for your rights before these mandatory associations are using your own money to defeat you in a Court of Law. As you can see from the Quoted Court Cases it has been tried before and failed. As long as you don't belong to a Mandatory Homeowners' Association you still have RIGHTS !

If you have any questions, please write an e-mail to [email protected]