New Home Owners Association legislation faces 3rd hearing next week

Sen. Alan Hays proposal would keep HOA boards in check

Author: Mike Holfeld, Problem Solver, mholfeld@clickorlando.com
Published On: Apr 15 2013 03:34:06 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 12 2013 11:35:31 PM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla -

The long running struggle by Florida residents to have rights and regulations in place to challenge Home Owner Association boards and developers is one step closer to becoming law  in Tallahassee.

Senate Bill 580, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Alan Hays of District 11, will go to a third subcommittee hearing next Wednesday after passing a Community Affairs committee by a unanimous  9-0  vote.

Hays’ proposed legislation would create “additional grounds” for discipline of community association managers and would mandate annual reporting to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Hays says he is unaware of any state regulations for Home Owners Associations and is convinced his proposed legislation would give “more rights” to state home owners who have no recourse short of a lawsuit today.

The proposed legislation comes after members of the Harbor Hills subdivision in Lady Lake took concerns of alleged misuse of power by its’ developer to Hays.

Clifford Cale, a long time resident of Harbor Hills, says taking any neighborhood issue to court is simply a lost cause because the developer uses the association dues for court costs.

“If I were to sue the association I’m suing myself,” Cale said.

During a meeting last week with Cale and three other members of the Harbor Hills neighborhood outlined several irregularities with the association including the fact that only two board members live in Harbor Hills.

Ralph Udick, a former army colonel and long time resident , is leading the effort for HOA laws.

Udick argues that under current HOA rules and regulations residents have no real  objective mediator.

“We have no say, we have no voice and we have no vote,” Udick said.

Complaints of so-called “HOA’s from hell” have been documented by Local 6. Arguments over lawn, paint colors, the right for kids to play outside , even the right of a former Marine to fly an American flag on his property have been sticking points under various HOA boards across Central Florida.

While Hays is convinced the legislation is needed, he cautions that the real work is just beginning.

“The bill has a long way to go before it reaches the governor’s desk”, said Hays. “It will be amended several times I’m sure before we get the final product.”

In an email to lawmakers in Tallahassee Thursday, Udick stressed that the proposed legislation” will not be a burden to any well functioning, happy HOA. The DBPR would only respond to queries for assistance from citizens; It will not initiate any actions.”

If the bill passes the subcommittee hearing this week it would then go to a full vote in the House and Senate. Continue to check ClickOrlando.com for updates on this story.