HOA Complaints Include Mailbox Waxing,

No For-Sale Signs

Article and Video Courtesy of 

LOCAL6.com, Orlando

Report By Mike Holfeld

Published July 8, 2008


Some of the violations listed in the report included white fences painted the wrong shade of white, the wrong color curtain lining showing from widows and palm trees on front yards.

Complaints made against homeowner associations in Florida include anything from requests to wash and wax mailboxes to threats over for-sale signs in yards, according to a Local 6 investigation.


Jan Bergemann, who is the president of a consumer group Cyber Citizens for Justice, said he receives hundreds of complaints from people saying their homeowner associations have gone too far.

Some of the violations listed in the report included white fences painted the wrong shade of white, the wrong color curtain lining showing from widows and palm trees on front yards.


"It almost sounds like a dictatorship," Local 6's Mike Holfeld said.


"It is," Bergemann said. "Sometimes it's worse. Even the best homeowners association is only one election away from a dictatorship."

Bergemann was appointed to the state's HOA task force under Jeb Bush, Holfeld reported. 

Through the years, he's seen neighborhoods splintered over everything from grass to the color of paint.

 Watch VIDEO

In Brevard County's Plantation Oaks, the right to sell your home has a catch in the fine print of the HOA rules and covenants -- for sale signs are not allowed.

"In my opinion, it's just not right," homeowner Josh Travis said. "I don't feel like I'm living in America anymore if I can't put up a sign in my front yard."

The report also featured Mildred Zilka who called Local 6 when her HOA gave her 14 days to paint her mailbox. The request included a recommendation to wash and wax the mailbox.

"I called you, yes, because I thought it was ridiculous and I thought it was a thing of nitpicking," Zilka said.

Zilka painted her mailbox because she didn't want a problem or a fine.



Orlando attorney Peter McGrath said when you buy a home in Central Florida, chances are you signed up for an address with enforced neighborhood sanctions.

"You ownership is going to be subjected to these covenants and restrictions," McGrath said.

McGrath said you can fight an HOA violation if there is proof the board is out of line or the rules are vague.

"I can cite one example of a situation involving an owner who painted their sidewalk a different color and in that case, the owner prevailed," McGrath said.

Holfeld reported that in the case, the rules were vague and the homeowner won. In fact, the homeowners association ended up paying the homeowner's $60,000 in legal fees.

Holfeld recommended that before anyone buys a home they should check the deed restrictions to learn about the rules.


ORLANDO, Fla. - -- A Local 6 investigation really struck quite a nerve with our viewers, many of whom believe that some local home owners associations are out of control. 

One man got involved in a $70,000 court fight over the color of his sidewalk. Another woman was told she needed to paint and even wax her mailbox. But Local 6’s Mike Holfeld revealed homeowners do have some rights when you are found in violation. 

An estimated 2.5 million Florida residents answer to some sort of Home Owners Association. But those HOA’s never answer to a state agency because it doesn’t exist. 

“We need to regulate home owners associations there's no doubt about it,” said Jan Bergemann, a former member of the HOA Task Force under Jeb Bush. Some neighborhood HOA’s are running wild and residents are trapped Bergemann argued. 

“It’s a free for all. Every board can do whatever they want to set up the election so they get re-elected,” said Bergemann.

Last year a home owners association’s statute was put on the books limiting decisions based on the association rules. But the statute doesn’t address rules like no “For Sale” signs or what shade of white to paint your fence. 

“An owner does clearly have rights to say this is unfair and raise defenses,” said Orlando Attorney Peter McGrath. Furthermore, HOA lawsuits can be challenged under several basic items: 

1. The HOA is "selectively enforcing the rule" against you and no one else. 

2. Waiver of the rule has already been approved then reversed. 

3. "Latches" the rule was already allowed to lapse. 

But McGrath warns there are no guarantees and the legal fees can get high very quickly. 

Holfeld said new legislation establishing an agency to oversee HOA’s is expected to be introduced next year.