Why did the judge allow seizure of HOA member’s home for rent payments?

In continuing my mission as a homeowner rights advocate and activist, rather than taking the politically correct stance of “one of the boys”  and we are all in this together kumbaya, allow me to dig a little deeper into the Florida HOA takeover of a homeowner’ home.  (See Behold the power of the HOA over your private property).

My thanks to Florida attorney Jean Winters’ who directs her blog readers’ to the Florida law in question, FS 720.3085.  Another statute that reflects a pro-HOA public policy.  (Does F.S. 720.3085 allow an HOA to take possession of a homeowner’s home and bar her from her own property? )   

Winters’ rightfully questions the judge’s order to grant HOA possession of the member’s  property, which was most likely sought by the HOA in its “prayer for relief” section of  its complaint.  It is important to understand the driving force behind many HOA actions.  Solomon, another Florida attorney, commented on this incident (quoted in Behold the Power above),

“Judges rely on what rights attorneys tell them their clients are afforded under the law,” Solomon said. “If there’s no attorney on the other side to argue that it’s wrong, the judge most often takes the word of the attorney and grants the motion. Plus, these judges hearing these cases usually are not experts in real estate law.” [Nor HOA law].

Winters’ asks,

What statute or provision in the Declaration of Covenants permits an HOA in this situation to rent or act as the owner without title to the property? What gives the HOA the right to threaten the lawful owner (and her attorney) with trespass and to bar her from access to her own property without a foreclosure proceeding?

First, subsection FS 720.3085(8)(a)(1), dealing only with the right to collect rent payments, requires a notice be sent, which was not done.  Furthermore, (8)(d) allows for eviction of the tenant only if payments are not made, but explicitly denies bona fide landlord rights to the HOA.  And, if this is not satisfactory to the HOA, it can have a court appoint a Receiver to collect rents – period. 

What we have here is the disgraceful state’s interference with a contractual obligation between landlord (member) and tenant granting the third party HOA preemptive rights to collect monies under the contract.  This interference cannot be justified as a bona fide government interest as it protects one party over the individual. In fact, subsection (8)(a)(1) grants powers to the HOA to collect rents for any debt owed the HOA, and that means fines, attorney fees, interest, etc., ”If the parcel is occupied by a tenant and the parcel owner is delinquent in paying any monetary obligation due to the association . . . .” 

Please understand the special privileges granted to the HOA. For example, under a mechanic’s lien judgment, the worker cannot have rent payments be delivered to him personally.  And he would first have to get a court order.  Even under garnishments a court order must first be obtained.  But no, the HOA has the power to act on its own.   Again we have another example of pro-HOA public policy favoring special rights and privileges for HOAs only, and not any other business or creditor/debtor relationships. 

I’ve written about the culture and climate that is an open invitation for intentional wrong-doing by HOAs, presumably with the approval of their attorneys. With this pro-HOA public policy, “HOAs have no restraint on running amuck, and on intentionally running amuck.”

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Published in: on May 4, 2012 at 7:37 am  Comments (1)  
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