The operation of these associations must be regulated.
In Doral, there are more than 150 communities that are managed by a Homeowner Association.
By: Edda Pujadas
DORAL, FL – If you live in Miami, it is very possible that your house is under the administration of a Homeowner Association or HOA. These HOAs have the obligation to maintain the organization and the control of your community, but they have also been called out for abusing their power, for misuse of the community funds and because some are not effective in their performance.
This is the reason for which this year, for the second year in a row, the City of Doral approved a resolution that has the objective to request to the Florida Legislature for a more thorough regulation over the activities of the Homeowner Associations in the whole state, including those in Doral.
The City of Doral has insisted on this request because as of today there are more than two million homes in the State of Florida that sit in a HOA and just in our city there are more than 150 communities under the control of one of these neighborhood organizations. For this reason, it is important to be vigilant of their activities and establish a clear difference between neighborhood control and abuse of power.
Councilwoman Claudia Mariaca presented this proposal before the Doral City Council in 2019 and again in 2020. When it was again approved, in 2020, she indicated that what this request, before the Florida Legislature wants is to achieve that the HOAs are transparent in their finances, a better management of the neighborhood funds and an effective control of the communities, while avoiding any abuse of power.
“I am a strong advocate of this initiative to protect the homeowners and I have voted again in favor of it, in order to make of this issue a legislative priority. The homeowners are demanding supervision, transparency, and efficiency and for this reason, there is an urgency of laws that can stop the abuse of HOAs and Property Management companies that operate unscrupulously,” stated Councilwoman Mariaca.
She also indicated that she will continue to insist on our representatives in Tallahassee for them to approve these laws and she will invite everyone to write or call their State Representatives and request them to also work in favor of the approval and implementation of laws that regulate the operation of HOAs.
Ana Maria Rodriguez, Florida Legislature Representative for District 105, stated that she was aware and monitoring the request that the City Council for the City of Doral is working on. She believes that it is of vital importance to support this request on the regulation of the HOAs.
“There have been several occasions when I have reported cases of abuse from people within power positions in our communities, and even when there was no way to claim or punish this bad behavior, once this request turns into law, there will be an efficient, legal and definitive way to stop these actions,” stated representative Rodriguez.
The importance of insisting on this request is that the decisions that are taken in an HOA affect all the members of the neighborhood. When you are the owner of a home within a planned community, you are also part of the neighborhood association of that community and for that reason, you must pay a monthly fee for the maintenance expenses of the common areas, the shared structures, and the exterior spaces.
If a homeowner is part of the HOA of that community, they are equally bound to the contracts, conditions, rules, regulations, and restrictions of the association. The majority of the Homeowner associations are supervised by volunteer persons that live in the same community.
This means that when you buy a house within a community that is regulated by an HOA or if you want to rent a home in a community that is under the control of a neighborhood association or HOA, you must go through an approval process that means that you will need to present some identification, together with financial and credit documents. You must also pay a fee for this application and in the majority of the cases, you will be required to render deposits or initial contributions that in the case of Doral, are between $500 and $1,000 dollars.
Given the high level of responsibility that the HOAs have, when these do not operate as expected, the homeowners pay a high price in courts, fees, foreclosures and even in mortgage takeovers. There can also be deterioration in the communities that will end in the depreciation of the homes.
Even when it is important to mention that the people that are part of the Board of Directors of the HOAs comply with these positions in a voluntary and not paid basis, the Governmental supervision, regulation, mandatory training, and the background verification together with the financial responsibility are necessary actions that can guarantee that the Homeowner Associations are managed in the correct way.
The request that the City of Doral is presenting before the Florida Legislature also pretends to help avoid abuses from those that handle the HOAs, to control the power of these individuals and to avoid any act of corruption. When these associations are managed by unscrupulous members and/or are managed by companies beyond the law, the damages to the communities and the finances of the homeowners can be unmeasurable.
This issue to extreme regulations on HOAs in our state has been in the Florida Legislature since 2018, when the HB873 and SB 1238 were presented, sponsored by Senator Rene Garcia and later by representative Manny Diaz, Jr. These proposals were not approved at that time.
Now, the City of Doral will send this request to the President of the Florida House of Representatives, the President of the Florida Senate and the Governor of Florida in order to ensure that this request to regulate more the way in which these HOAs work and take decisions, gets clearly understood and received.