The news is good lately as several state legislatures have and are dealing with substantive HOA reform legislation that confronts the HOA legal structure as un-American. California’s SB 323 passed into law last year amid the hostility of CAI; Florida’s HB 623 is in the legislative process of becoming law; and Arizona’s SB 1412 is just starting out in the legislature.
The substantive amendments to state laws are:
SB 323 (CA) — seeks to introduce fair elections procedures for HOAs, addressing one of my 6 substantive defects in the HOA legal scheme. Deborah Goonan’s excellent discussion of this bill brought to my attention a second defect in the HOA legal scheme, the lack of enforcement of the law.
“A member of an association may bring a civil action for declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of this article by the association. . . . “A member who prevails in a civil action to enforce the member’s rights . . . the court may impose a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation.”
HB 623 (FL) —
“This provision will amend 718 F.S. so any bylaws, or reasonable rules or regulations of the association which diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Art. 384 II of the State Constitution and would be void and unenforceable without further action of the association. However, the provision states that the association may record a notice in the public records of the county in which the condominium is located evidencing its intention to not enforce such provision, it would foolhardy for them to do so. This has been overdue in our quest for achieving equal rights.”
Much to my surprise Eric Glazer, of FL HOA & Condo Blog and host of HOA Condo Craze, warns of danger if HB 623 is made law.
To simplify, the 14th Amendment made The Bill of Rights (The first ten amendments to the Constitution) applicable to the states. So, this law basically says no provision of your governing documents can infringe upon the rights you have under the Bill of Rights. All of you know several of these rights such as the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.
There is plenty of law out there that says when you move into an association, you may give up some of the rights you may ordinarily have in your private home. You do this by agreeing to be bound by the governing documents.
SB 1412 (AZ) — seeks to prohibit HOAs and condos from restricting political free speech. Members are permitted to associate, meet, discuss, show signs regarding political activity.
“NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION IN THE CONDOMINIUM DOCUMENTS, AN ASSOCIATION MAY NOT PROHIBIT OR UNREASONABLY RESTRICT A UNIT OWNER’S ABILITY TO PEACEFULLY ASSEMBLE AND USE PRIVATE OR COMMON ELEMENTS OF THE CONDOMINIUM IF DONE IN COMPLIANCE WITH REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE USE OF THAT PROPERTY ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OR GROUP OF MEMBERS MAY ORGANIZE TO DISCUSS OR ADDRESS PLANNED COMMUNITY BUSINESS, INCLUDING BOARD ELECTIONS OR RECALLS, POTENTIAL OR ACTUAL BALLOT ISSUES . . . .”
I cannot emphasize that these bills have a very large umbrella covering many issues found at fault in HOAs. They provide the legal authority supporting many, many complaints, even those where the homeowner is just not happy with the way the HOA is run. In these cases, the HOA hasn’t really violated any law of the governing documents per se. The complaints should their focus on the lack of fair elections to remove wayward boards, or due process and equal protection of the law violations. The 14th Amendment applies!
What is needed is the strong support for the champions of these bills, Sen. Bob Wieckowski in CA, Senator D. Farnsworth in Arizona, and Representative Jason Shoaf in Florida. The California bill made law was achieved, in my opinion, with the help of the strong support of Marjorie Murray of CCHAL. They fought and are fighting the system — state legislatures do not favor HOA reforms.
 The 14th Amendment. Section 1 state prohibitions against laws denying due process of law and the equal protection of the laws, and abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens.