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Can an HOA fine its residents? What are the rules?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Condominium & Community Association Law

It is not uncommon for homes in Florida to be part of a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). HOAs can offer many benefits, from community spaces like tennis courts and pools to landscaping services and golf privileges. With these benefits, come rules. In order to be part of the HOA the residents need to pay fees and abide by the rules.

In some instances, the HOA even has the power to issue fines for those who do not abide by these rules.

But how much is too much? In a recent example, a Florida couple is challenging their HOA’s attempt to issue a fine for speeding. They state that the presence of the fine itself is not the issue. They agree with the HOA’s decision to issue fines for speeding within the community. Instead, they argue that the HOA implemented the fines without notice and that the fine is excessive.

What does Florida law say about HOAs and fines?

Florida state law allows HOAs to “levy reasonable fines.” In serious matters, the HOA can put a levy against the resident’s property. HOAs also have the power to do the following:

  • Suspend a resident’s privileges to enjoy the benefits of the community.
  • Suspend a resident’s privileges to vote at association meetings.

It is important to note that all actions by the HOA are generally guided by reasonableness. This is not always a clear standard to apply. As such, frustrations when attempting to navigate these disputes are common.

I am part of an HOA board. How can we make sure our rules sustain a challenge?

Boards are wise to review the provisions within their legal documents comply with Florida community association law and with the HOA’s governing documents. HOA boards can seek legal counsel to help develop or amend their documents to better ensure a fining policy not just benefits the community but is also more likely to survive a legal challenge.