By: Harris B. Katz Esq. Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Q: I live in a large community. Some of the homes in the neighborhood are waterfront and they are larger lots. Our homeowner’s association (HOA) maintains the lawns and landscaping in the neighborhood and because the waterfront homes have larger lots, shouldn’t they have to pay more toward their share of the association fees than those of us with smaller lots? That does not seem right.
C.G., Boca Raton
A: Unfortunately, as many of us who live in Florida communities know, when you live in an association, some things don’t always seem fair. As a rule, the association (be it an HOA or a condominium) is run based upon the governing documents, including the declaration and bylaws. The declaration contains language regarding the fees that are paid by the residents. Initially, it is the developer of the community that sets up those fees and who pays what. That can change once turnover occurs, which often leads to higher fees being assessed than when the developer controlled the community. A good board will work to try and keep costs down for everyone, but it is sometimes difficult to do so once turnover occurs. Also, the larger the community, the more services that you can get for less money per owner. But, generally, everyone is going to pay the same amount in an HOA, especially if you are all getting the same or similar sorts of services. Without reviewing your specific documents, I cannot provide you with an opinion on whether or not your association is properly assessing the correct fees, but based upon your question, it is likely that it is.
You should also take into consideration that services such as lawn/landscaping maintenance that are covered by the association is a nice perk as it keeps everyone’s property kept up and avoids having some of the residents let their lawn die and get weed-infested. Such services also generally cost less when it is a shared expense for the entire community. In other words, it is a benefit for the entire community, even for owners who do not have the larger lots.
Harris B. Katz, Esq., is Partner of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Visit www.gadclaw.com or to ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.