Define "HOA"

So by now you may have heard of the contested MRTA revitalized declaration, and if you haven't, you may be scratching your head at the recent enforcement letters the association had been sending out stating that "ALL Lime Tree Village homeowners (club members and nonmembers alike)are required by Florida Statute 720 to conform to the associations Covenants & Restrictions, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations."  

Before I get too lawyer-ly, I just wanted to point out that the association only wants to follow the statutes when they are convenient.  For instance, they cited MRTA and s, 720 in their letter.  They want you to do whatever they say because, according to them, it is the law.  But did you know the association did not even meet the qualifications of the law they claim gives them the right to govern your property?

This is where it may get a little complicated, but not really.  Here are the relevant statutes regarding the association's revitalization attempt:

712.11 "a homeowners’ association not otherwise subject to chapter 720 may use the procedures set forth in s. 720.403-720.407 to revive covenants that have lapsed under the terms of this chapter." 

712.01(4) The term “homeowners’ association” means a homeowners’ association as defined in s. 720.301, or an association of parcel owners which is authorized to enforce use restrictions that are imposed on the parcels. 

720.301(9) “Homeowners’ association” or “association” means a Florida corporation responsible for the operation of a community or a mobile home subdivision in which the voting membership is made up of parcel owners or their agents, or a combination thereof, and in which membership is a mandatory condition of parcel ownership, and which is authorized to impose assessments that, if unpaid, may become a lien on the parcel. The term “homeowners’ association” does not include a community development district or other similar special taxing district created pursuant to statute. 

720.405(4)(e) “(4) The proposed revived declaration and other governing documents for the community shall: (e) Comply with the other requirements for a declaration of covenants and other governing documents as specified in this chapter. 

So based on s. 712 (MRTA) and s. 720, the association is not really an association because they lack the authority to put a lien on your property and not all parcel owners are obligated to become members.  

But here is where it gets even more detailed - the law defines what exactly is a "parcel," in regards to homeowners associations, which details even more about the requirements.

720.301(11) “Parcel” means a platted or unplatted lot, tract, unit, or other subdivision of real property within a community, as described in the declaration:
(a) Which is capable of separate conveyance; and
(b) Of which the parcel owner, or an association in which the parcel owner must be a member, is obligated:
1. By the governing documents to be a member of an association that serves the community; and
2. To pay to the homeowners’ association assessments that, if not paid, may result in a lien.
(12) “Parcel owner” means the record owner of legal title to a parcel.

Had anyone even read the association's original governing documents (or even their Amended and Restated Declaration of Covenants)?

The association went to great lengths to detail who they may enforce restrictions upon.  First, they defined an "Owner" as meaning "any other person, firm or corporation which shall acquire or own any Real Property in such form as may now exist or may be created from time to time."

"'Real Property' means any parcel of land affected hereby."

"Lot" means any plot of land shown upon any recorded subdivision map of the Real Property.

Have you followed all of that?  The association defined everything!  Now what does it say about enforcement?

"If the Owner or Owners of Lots with The Property, or any other person or persons, or any of them, or any of their heirs, personal representatives, successors or assigns, shall violate or attempt to violate any of the Covenants and Restrictions contained herein, it shall be lawful for any other person or persons owning Real Property situate within The Property, or the Lime Tree Village Community Association, Inc. to prosecute any proceedings at law or in equity against the person or persons violating or attempting" to violate the Covenants and Restrictions.

So basically, their own restrictions they claim are valid are only valid against members who may have liens placed on their property should they fail to pay assessments.

And we all remember what they said about liens, right?

This doesn't really change much.  Their revitalized documents are still illegal regardless of what the Department of Economic Opportunity said or did because the law is the law and the association has decided to pick and choose which definitions they deem fit for following.  They do not meet the definition of an association, and by law, could not legally revitalize.  So, by that rationale, they are also not allowed to enforce their bogus restrictions!  

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