The main objective of this proposal is to achieve financial transparency, better management of the HOA funds and effective management of the HOAs to protect the rights of the residents.
By: Edda Pujadas
The City of Doral will request the Florida Legislature to approve a project that will allow the emendation of the Homeowner Associations in the State, including those in Doral.
As explained by Vice Mayor Claudia Mariaca, who presented this proposal before the Doral City Council, this request is in support of the residents in their search of financial transparency, better management of HOA funds and the efficiency on the control of the communities.
“This was a proposal that was unanimously approved by all the members of the City Council, and we are all in agreement to request the Florida Legislature to enact this law because we understand that the decisions that are taken in an HOA affect all the members of a neighborhood,” adds Vice Mayor Mariaca.
If this review to the HOA gets approval at the State level, it will become a law that will benefit two million households in Florida. “In our city, the impact of this legislation is significant because 90% of the communities in Doral are operated under some HOA.”
When HOAs do not work properly or according to how they are supposed to, the homeowners pay a high price in courts, fees, liens and even in mortgage foreclosures. We can also see neglect and a clear deterioration in the communities and neighborhoods, and this brings depreciation of the homes which causes substantial monetary loses to their owners.
“I believe that these reasons are more than enough to request this legislation. Government supervision, regulations, mandatory training for the Board of Directors of the HOAs, background checks and financial responsibility must be implemented to guarantee that the HOAs are well managed,” added Vice Mayor Mariaca.
Another important issue that is mentioned in Resolution 19-48 through which the City of Doral is requesting the Florida Legislature the review of HOAs is to adopt a proactive approach that avoids abuse by those that are directing the HOAs, control the power of these and prevents corruption.
It is essential to take into consideration that when HOAs are directed by unscrupulous members and managed by companies and attorneys that do not follow the law, the damages to the communities are irreparable. “By requesting this legislation, we want to avoid actions that are carried by a few but cause damages to many owners that are trusting and defenseless.”
Let’s remember that during 2018, HB 873 and SB 1238 were presented and sponsored by then Senator Rene Garcia and Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. respectively, these tried to establish specific regulations for HOAs. Unfortunately, at that time these did not pass.
For example, it prohibits that HOAs hire an attorney that also represents their Management company; establishes also that the associations must provide their members with a copy of the annual financial statement or a written notification that details how can they get a copy of such statement; prohibits an officer, director or manager of the association to request, offer or accept to provide a service to the association; they also need to provide the requirements and procedures regarding conflicts of interests, among other regulations.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HOAs?
The purchase of a house within a planned development saves from the responsibility to maintain your own property and the common areas. It also allows for the use of the facilities, such as pools, gyms and any other service or facility available only for the residents of the development, but these benefits have a price, both for the finances and the freedom as the owner of a house.
When you are an owner within a planned development, you are also a part of the Homeowners Association, and for this reason, you have to pay your fees (which are charged monthly, generally speaking) these help cover for the maintenance of common areas, shared structures, and exterior spaces.
By being a member of the HOA of your community, you are also linked to the contracts, conditions and rules, regulations and restrictions of the association. The majority of the owner’s groups are supervised by volunteers that live in the same development.
Within the associations, there is an essential number of factors that impact the maintenance payments that each owner has to contribute with. For example, the amount and size of the services of the complex (common areas, private entry, clubhouse and security services, among others) affect the fees.
The fees that are paid for the HOA can also differ due to variations in the square feet, location, and orientation, all of which can affect the maintenance that the property will require. This also indicates that for a buyer of a home, it is also essential to know the history of the increase in fees, together with the amount for the monthly fee.
This obvious importance of HOAs over the households of the residents and their monthly finances makes more than necessary that this request from the City of Doral to the Florida Legislature is approved in order to protect the assets of thousands of homeowners in our State.