You Asked For It...

So the association has claimed they revitalized the documents.  They touted the approval by the Department of Economic Opportunity as proof of their validity and they mailed out packets with their supposed revitalized restrictions.  So what does this mean exactly?

Nothing!

While they jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops the DEO doesn't do a detailed analysis of the documents they are presented with.  The association provided them with a set of covenants and restrictions and that was that.  The department rubber-stamped what they were given because what they were given looked official.  While the department reviews the information given to them, they do not research them.  When they were informed that the association did not provide them with all of the legally-required documentation they stated that they would not change their determination.

Statute 720.406 states the following:

Department of Economic Opportunity; submission; review and determination.—
(1) No later than 60 days after the date the proposed revived declaration and other governing documents are approved by the affected parcel owners, the organizing committee or its designee must submit the proposed revived governing documents and supporting materials to the Department of Economic Opportunity to review and determine whether to approve or disapprove of the proposal to preserve the residential community. The submission to the department must include:
(a) The full text of the proposed revived declaration of covenants and articles of incorporation and bylaws of the homeowners’ association;
(b) A verified copy of the previous declaration of covenants and other previous governing documents for the community, including any amendments thereto;

The association didn't provide the original restrictions that everybody's properties were subject to.  Instead, they provided the state with only their amended version that were not in the chain of title.  Not only that, they included an amendment that forced membership into their club and granting themselves legal authority over the neighborhood.  There are several problems with this.  First, the association should not have been allowed to file for revitalization in the first place because they are not a true mandatory association.  Their amendment that they allege to be official forces membership but has conditions attached.  While this would mean they couldn't file under MRTA requirements, there is also the vague last part of Statute 712:

712.11 Covenant revitalization.—A homeowners’ association not otherwise subject to chapter 720 may use the procedures set forth in ss. 720.403-720.407 to revive covenants that have lapsed under the terms of this chapter.

This section requires the association to be defined as such under Statute 720.  Now if they do not meet the definition set forth in 720 - as in being a mandatory association - then there is another condition that needs to be met, being they must possess authority to enforce the restrictions.  This leads to the reason why the DEO approved their documents - there is significant legal precedence in the State of Florida that require any such change in scope of a neighborhood, specifically granting an association enforcement authority and requiring membership and forced assessments, requires the full approval of the affected parcel owners.  That is because making such changes are consider legally unreasonable and significantly restrict a lot owners use of their property.  The association didn't do this 15 years ago.  While the papers they submitted to the state said they possessed enforcement authority, in reality they did not.  You can file anything you want with the county or state and they will take it without any question.  The DEO looked at what they were given and nothing more.  They didn't look at the original declaration of covenants and restrictions, they didn't look at the methods the club used to present themselves as the official mandatory association, and they sure as hell didn't look at MRTA-related judicial rulings.

So where does that leave the neighborhood?

The association would like you to believe that leaves you in their hands but in reality that leaves you and your property in a kind of legal limbo that will most likely end up in a costly legal battle.  A common caution on this site is the risk of liability and their most recent newsletter demonstrates why having a corporation in charge of your property rights run by amateur volunteers is a bad idea.

The most recent newsletter stressed the importance of following trash receptacle storage... unless you present them with some sort of hardship so they can grant a variance, which is a thing that is not permitted by those documents they claimed to love so much that they wanted revitalized.

They warned homeowners not to park cars over the grass of their own lawns.  This rule came out of nowhere.  It is not found in their declaration they gave the state and it is certainly not found anywhere else yet the association has decided they can now make up rules out of thin air.

What's next?  Demanding homeowners get permission to re-roof their house thus bringing it up to code?

Oh, wait.  They have done that too even though they do not possess the authority of architectural control.

These things seem minor, but does it seem minor when the association tries to take away your home because of something like not putting your trashcan in the right spot or where you park your car?  Sure they have no lien rights but that hasn't stopped them in the past.

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