As an alternate to making HOA governments a state entity, the creation and establishment of a bona fide, legitimate state agency established by an effective and meaningful enabling act will accomplish HOA reforms. Couple the clear and precise intent to provide for checks and balances – meaning state oversight – with a dedicated head of the agency to carry out the agency’s mission, the independent HOA principalities will now be accountable to the state as they should be.
Florida’s SB 596, sponsored by Senator Hays, proposes such a state agency over HOAs. It proposes the following addition, among other things, to FS 720.302(2):
Having provided certain powers and authority to homeowners’ associations and in deed restrictions created by developers of mandated properties in residential communities, the Legislature recognizes that it is necessary to provide regulatory oversight of such associations in order to ensure compliance with federal and state laws and local ordinances. It is the intent of the Legislature to protect the rights of parcel owners by ensuring that the powers and authority granted to homeowners’ associations and in deed restrictions created by developers of mandated properties in residential communities conform to a system of checks and balances in order to prevent abuses by these governing authorities. (emphasis added).
From first glance, this bill creates a typical regulatory agency to make laws, set rules, investigate, handle complaints and enforce the law in courts. Among the provisions in this lengthy 124 page bill are penalties, fines, HOA cease and desist orders, and restitution enforceable in the courts by the agency, FBPR, and not having to be brought by the individual homeowner. The proposed agency is not a “let’s study the problem” typical political tactic to do nothing by creating just an investigatory agency, which insults homeowners with its “we don’t believe you” attitude. SB 596 is a very good step short of making HOAs state agencies.
It should be obvious to all that what will be argued as government involvement has been brought about precisely because of the abuse within the industry. It is the failure of those “stakeholder,” specil interest moneyed vendors to police the industry. It is the failure of the homeowners themselves to police their boards. And consequently, it falls to state governments to promote the general welfare and protect its citizens against abuse by a stronger faction within the community.
Furthermore, making this bill law will help keep the legislature from hearing HOA reform bills year after year.
In order to establish justice and fair play for all homeowners, it remains to insure that the laws are themselves fair and just. The pro-HOA laws must be amended or revoked. The misguided doctrine that permits CC&Rs and servitude law to supersede constitutional law and contract law must stop.