Florida has embraced the condominium lifestyle and all the perks that come with it. According to U.S. News, 20 percent of all Americans live in housing communities.
If you live in a housing community, you know that sometimes residents and the condominium board don't see eye to eye. Whatever the dispute, when dealing with any homeowners' association it's important to keep these tips in mind:
It doesn't matter how much they've irritated you, always be polite to board members. There is nothing gained by doing otherwise and a lot to lose. Treat them civilly.
If you have an issue with one individual member, try to approach someone else on the board. Don't give a board any reasons to treat you differently than other residents.
Know the rules
While this may sound obvious, it pays to check if your position is legal under current association rules. If you apply for an eight-foot-high fence and rules mandate a six-foot maximum, you can't argue for an exception.
If your dispute is against current rules, start a petition to change them. You can raise support to address the issue.
Keep everything in writing
Make sure you have a paper record of all interactions between yourself and the board. This way you will avoid any confusion around who said what. This can be a good reference to prove you've made good-faith efforts towards addressing the issue. That will be useful if a third party gets involved. It's also an easy way to keep other members informed on your issue and where it stands.
Pay your dues
It can be tempting to stop paying any dues out of protest, but this is a bad idea. Depending on your homeowners' association, if you don't pay your dues you can face massive fees. These fees can accumulate very quickly. Even if you feel you are in the right, pay your dues as you look for ways to address the issue.
If the board has made a mistake, it may be possible to get some dues or fees returned to you once the problem is resolved.
Understand the law
Under Florida law, conflicts with a homeowners' association must go to a mediator first. This applies to all conflicts except those involving election results. Mediation is your chance to seek a fair compromise. Take it seriously, but remember that you have options if talks break down or go nowhere
The right approach is key to a good relationship with your condominium board. If you have an issue with your condo board or homeowners' association, talking to an attorney experienced in both litigation and mediation can be a good step towards a successful resolution.