What Budgetary Requirements Does Florida Law Place on Associations?
Florida HOAs must prepare yearly budgets estimating anticipated expenses and revenue and identifying any reserve accounts or funds set aside for deferred expenditures. Fla. Stat. 702.303(6). The specific methods for adopting budgets and calculating assessments will be set forth in the association’s declaration and/or articles of incorporation, and the board has a duty to comply with those requirements.
The Florida Condominium Act includes more precise budgetary requirements than the Homeowners’ Association Act. Each year, a condo association must prepare a detailed budget of estimated revenues and expenses - broken down by expense classifications and providing for reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. Fla. Stat. §718.112(2)(f). Each condo association must hold an annual budget meeting open to all members. Fla. Stat. §718.112(2)(e). If the association’s budget is increased by more than 115 percent over the prior year, the association must hold a special meeting to consider an alternate budget if requested by at least 10 percent of members. Fla. Stat. §718.112(2)(e).
The obligation for members of an HOA to pay the fees assessed by the HOA primarily comes as a contractual obligation which is created by the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), as well as the Bylaws and Operating Rules of the HOA. The obligation to pay such fees runs with the land/property/condo and as such, the contractual obligation continues on until an HOA property is transferred to the next owner. This article is designed to give members of HOAs basic information concerning HOA Fees and many of the issues that come along with them.
Homeowners’ associations typically are formed to manage any property in the community that is owned communally, as opposed to individually, such as a playground or building hallways. Whether an HOA is made up of a condominium building, townhouses, or single-family homes, the responsibilities generally include the same type of tasks – maintain landscaping, employ property managers, maintain shared private roads or driveways, arrange trash removal, operate a swimming pool, and the like. This article will help you better understand the ins and outs of HOA fees.
A district judge in Florida described community associations as “a little democratic sub-society of necessity.” And, as with federal, state, and local governments, for the “little sub-society” to function, it needs revenue. Association revenue comes in the form of HOA fees paid by homeowners – the functional equivalent of property taxes paid to a local government. An association’s authority to collect HOA fees (or “assessments”) arises from two places:state law and the HOA’s declaration.The declaration is a document recorded in the county land records that serves as the association’s constitution. It grants certain powers to the HOA and imbues homeowners with certain rights and obligations, one of which is the duty to pay assessments.
The right to record liens, and to foreclose on unpaid liens, is perhaps the most powerful tool homeowners’ associations have to enforce assessment obligations. State HOA laws are designed to allow associations to recover unpaid fees without undue effort and expense while protecting homeowners from overly aggressive associations by requiring strict compliance with statutory procedures and ample notice to homeowners.
In 1977, Congress passed the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA” or “Act”) to prevent abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors. The act prohibits debt collectors from harassing consumers or using deceptive conduct when attempting to collect a debt. Homeowners or condominium maintenance assessments are subject to the FDCPA, therefore, the association’s debt collectors must follow the law when attempting to collect past due fees from homeowners.
The association, under its documents and local laws, has the authority to charge annual, special, and capital assessments against all owners in the community to pay for the maintenance expenses and improvements to the common areas. The common areas consist of parks, pools, gyms, sidewalks, and any other area in the community, except those portions which lie within the boundaries of the owner's property.