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Articles Tagged with HOA architectural committee actions

Shari-Garrett-002-200x300The firm’s latest Miami Herald column was authored by partner Shari Wald Garrett and appears in today’s edition of the newspaper.  The article, which is titled “Real Estate Counselor: Neighbors, HOA Dispute Over New Fence Becomes a Legal Saga,” focuses on a recent ruling by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal over a case that escalated from a minor fence dispute into a major courtroom quarrel with an appeal and reversal.  Shari writes that matter illustrates the potential ramifications of discrepancies and confusion in homeowners associations’ reviews and approvals of owners’ submissions for planned architectural changes to their properties.  Her article reads:

. . . The saga all began when homeowner Craiger Scheuer complained to the board of directors of the HOA for The Cottages at San Lorenzo, in Bradenton about his neighbors’ new fence. Neighbors Luis Antonio Beckett-Morales and Sharon Talamantes-Santiago had submitted plans for their new fence to the association and received its prior architectural review and approval as required, but unfortunately there was an issue.

The application included two conflicting plans: one called for a fence that would obstruct the view from Scheuer’s property of a stormwater retaining pond directly behind their home but not abutting his, and the other was for a fence that retained his view.  SGarrett-Herald-clip-for-blog-7-16-23-103x300The HOA nevertheless approved the application, but it importantly provided that the approval was subject to the written condition that the fence follow all the architectural review committee guidelines for the specific lot type.

When Scheuer complained that the fence installed by Morales and Santiago obstructed his view of the pond, the association ultimately agreed and covered the cost of modifying the fence. However, the remodeled fence also obstructed Scheuer’s view, so he sued his neighbors and the association.

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For most homeowners association communities, one of the primary functions for the associations in their enforcement of the community’s declaration is ensuring that all of the homeowners are maintaining the exterior appearance of their property.  Poorly maintained homes detract from a community’s appeal and diminish its property values, and HOAs are charged with conducting all of the necessary enforcement actions in order to consistently and fairly ensure that all of the homeowners in their community are doing their part.

A ruling earlier this month by the Fourth District Court of Appeal reinforced an HOA’s ability to have its homeowners remedy a violation of the community’s declaration involving the appearance of their home.

In the case of Hibbs Grove Plantation Homeowners Association v. Avraham Aviv and Helen Aviv, the HOA notified the Avivs that their home was not in compliance with the community’s declaration due to their failure to remove mold/mildew from the exterior of their residence.  The notice referenced the declaration’s caveat that “exterior surfaces and/or pavement, including, but not limited to, walks and drives, shall be pressure treated within thirty (30) days of notice by the ACC [Architectural Control Committee].”

The Avivs responded by hiring a company to pressure clean the exterior of their house and supplied the HOA with written proof that the job had been completed, but the association went on to file for injunctive relief.

mmonhomeThe trial court then granted the homeowners’ motion for final summary judgment, finding that they fully complied with the association’s demand to pressure clean the exterior of their home.  In its filing in opposition to the summary judgment, the association emphasized the deposition testimony of the Avivs in which they acknowledged that after the pressure cleaning some “stains” remained.  The association argued that “the relief sought by way of injunction in this case has not been obtained since the marks and/or the stains remained after the filing of the complaint and/or continue to exist.”

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