No Taxation Without Representation

Ever since the DBPR's approval of the revitalization of declaration of covenants and restrictions the Club has felt emboldened and was quick to abuse their power by pursuing action against every individual who they perceive as a violator.  Whether demanding garbage cans be removed from sight or cars be removed from certain locations of one's property, they have decided that they are top cop in the neighborhood, which brings me to the topic of this post: their wrongful assertion regarding the covenants and restrictions.

As we all know, the Club asserts that the restrictions are indeed lawful and that they have the authority to enforce covenants and restrictions.  Others believe they don't, and this stems from a variety of facts backed up by case law and legal precedent.  For instance, the Club never satisfied the requirements to amend the original covenants and restrictions in the first place.  It was this amendment that they have insisted gave them the power to enforce restrictions on everyone.

Another legal issue is the fact that the restrictions were expired, numerous homeowners were not member to the club, and in their revitalization paperwork they sought to encumber properties by placing restrictions on those properties retroactively.  This of course is not legal.  One cannot draft a contract and force another party to be committed to that contract by simply winding back the clock.

For instance, a neighbor of ours had not been a member of the club for nearly half a decade.  The club revitalized and in those documents stated that any property purchased after 2001 was now a member.  They are now insisting that neighbor belongs to them.  This leads me to the second point: the Club is misrepresenting the law and making claims that are 100% false.

This is what they wrote in their October newsletter:

Upon the recent revitalization of Lime Tree's documents and covenants, via the MRTA application proces, ALL Lime Tree Village homeowners (club members and nonmembers alike) are required by Florida Statute 720 to conform to the Association's Covenants & Restrictions, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations.

What does all that mean?

They insist that the law gives them the authority to enforce any document - even corporate by-laws and rules and regulations - against non-members.

Why is this wrong?

The Club seems to conflate multiple statutes and documents into one generic rule - that they make the rules.  This is incorrect.

Florida Statute 720 governs mandatory HOAs with the authority to lien.  As discussed previously on this website, the Club does not have the authority to lien (they used that as a selling point for revitalization).  Also, per their revitalized declaration, they do not force membership upon every homeowner.

Just look at the stated scope and purpose of Statute 720:

The purposes of this chapter are to give statutory recognition to corporations not for profit that operate residential communities in this state, to provide procedures for operating homeowners’ associations, and to protect the rights of association members without unduly impairing the ability of such associations to perform their functions.

Does it mention anything about non-members?

Nope.

Just consider their actions against non-members.  Attempting to enforce arbitrary rules and collect fines, fees, or assessments, in which the benefits are only experienced by the membership.  It does not sound as if the Club is looking out for the rights of every homeowner - just those who belong to their exclusive and discriminatory club.

The law also states that associations would be subject to corporate law, and in the case of the Club, that would be Statute 617, which governs not for profit corporations.  This law specifically states that only members are held liable to the corporation and not non-members like the Club insists.

Also, while covenants and restrictions outline matters regarding the use of a property, articles of incorporation, by-laws, and rules and regulations involve the operation of the corporate body and their holdings.  A by-law has no authority over a non-member.  As a general rule, by-laws should not have sections that act as restrictions because then you run into situations that are highly illegal, like attempting to circumvent the law and utilize by-laws to pass covenants and restrictions that can impede the use of non-member properties.

Since we are currently undergoing our national election process, remember the old phrase "taxation without representation" and now consider the actions of the Club.  In their most recent newsletter they state that non-members must follow the rules that are made by the members and have no voice in the election process because only members (in good standing) are allowed to vote.

So basically, the laws they claim give them authority specifically state they lack authority but they have decided to act using their own interpretations anyway.

Nice try Lime Tree...

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