Violating Architectural Rules & Regulations Can Get Expensive
Posted on July 15, 2017 to Condo/HOA Law
Most association’s Governing Documents require that the Association must review construction plans/permits and then issue written consent for construction of improvements or modifications to properties – especially if those improvements or modifications will be visible to other owners, involve the common elements or association property and/or impact utility services to the property.
Therefore, single-family homeowners give up freedoms they might have otherwise enjoyed if they did not live in a planned community.
However, the purpose of restrictions is to protect the common good. Nevertheless, often, property owners negligently and purposefully ignore the architectural control provisions of the governing documents. When timely and consistent enforcement action is taken by the Association against an owner who has made unapproved changes, the appropriate remedy awarded by the court is a mandatory injunction. The courts have broad discretion to fashion an appropriate remedy but usually a court’s order requires the offending owner to remove unauthorized changes and to restore the original condition of the property.
In several cases, the courts have required removal of balcony enclosures, storm shutters, decorative features, fences, patios, landscaping and newly painted colors.
Some examples of common violations are as follows:
- A homeowner thought that since he obtained a permit for the installation, HOA approval was necessary – not true.
- Another homeowner thought that since the HOA didn’t own the property underneath the dock that HOA approval was not necessary – not true.
- Another homeowner thought that approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overruled the HOA – not true.
Property Owners need to be cognizant of Section 720.3035, Florida Statutes, which became effective on July 1, 2007. This law does not eliminate an association’s ability to regulate alterations to a lot but does require that authority be specifically stated or reasonably inferred from the written covenants or other published guidelines and standards authorized by the declaration of covenants. Home or Unit Owners need to learn and understand what procedures are in place in their community association to avoid costly problems.