Study: Florida No. 2 in nation for most HOA complaints

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 7:15 PM EST
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Homeowner and condo associations are created to maintain property values but can sometimes be a source of anxiety and stress for some property owners.

This is generating new attention after an HOA president and her husband were fatally shot in Martin County on Saturday.

Generally, disputes over small things can sometimes turn into costly legal battles.

"I have one guy now disputing over a mailbox, and they're charging him $100 a day," real estate attorney Mitchell Nowack, who practices in Palm Beach and Broward counties, said.

That's just one example that Nowack said he's dealing with when it comes to HOAs.

Nowack said state laws in Florida allow the associations to levy fines and liens on property, especially over issues about home repairs.

"Their job is to have conformity," Nowack said. "Their job is to make sure that you preserve your neighbors' home value by not destroying and putting stuff all over your lot that can take away from the value of property, which is what they're trying to control."

Cinch Home Services, an online home warranty company, this year ranked Florida as No. 2 in the nation for the most HOA complaints.

Many complaints result from the fines and liens placed by associations on property owners.

The Cinch study said that the most common citations are over parking, lawn care and home repairs. It's a power that may be a surprise to many new Florida residents.

Nowack admits that sometimes taking on an HOA can be difficult and very costly.

"I have a client currently in bankruptcy, and she has a $400,000 judgment levied against her for legal fees," Nowack said. "The basis for the dispute is that she wanted the financial records of the association."

His best advice is not to ignore issues when they first come up. He said to try and work out a solution early before HOA disputes take a bad turn.

"Associations are not for people swimming against the stream," Nowack said.

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