The recent case that we handled on behalf of one of our homeowners association clients in Miami serves as an excellent reminder of the importance for community associations to communicate with and inform their members about the policies of the property’s architectural control committee (ACC). A homeowner in the community had not sought and secured the requisite prior approval with the association’s ACC for an addition to his home, and as a result we were able to secure a court decision that forced the homeowner to make significant and costly changes in order for his property to be in compliance with the ACC’s standards for the community.
Our other community association attorneys and I counsel our HOA clients on the importance of communicating with their members to help avoid these legal actions whenever possible. We work closely with South Florida community associations in order to enable them to create and maintain an effective architectural control committee that requires advance approval before exterior work is done on a home.
For HOAs, it is essential that they avoid acting arbitrarily in their enforcement of the architectural and design policies of the community. The goals for all ACCs are to establish and preserve a harmonious design and protect the value of the community. They typically require that prior to a homeowner making any improvements or alterations to the outside of their home, the plans must be submitted to determine if they are in compliance with the association’s legal requirements. Most associations will adopt guidelines for the homeowners to use prior to their submission of their plans to the committee, and we believe that developing and using specific guidelines is critical to the effective enforcement of architectural and design standards for communities.
It is also essential for the HOAs to make educating and communicating with the community’s homeowners about the ACC’s policies and guidelines a top priority. Our lawyers who focus on working with HOAs and condo associations help our clients to determine and implement the tools and procedures that they need in order to effectively enforce their ACC policies and requirements. We write about important issues for community associations such as this in our blog, and we encourage readers to submit their e-mail address in the box on the right in order to receive all of our future posts.