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Hot Topics in Florida HOAs

Presentation by Dania Fernandez to the Florida House of Representatives

Last November, I was invited to present before the Florida House Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee on the issue of “Hot Topics in Florida HOAs.” While there are numerous hot topics affecting Florida homeowners associations, I distilled my presentation down to several main areas I see affecting board members and homeowners. 

Below is a summary of that presentation as well as takeaways HOAs should consider implementing as they work to improve the health and well-being of their community. You can also watch a full recording of the House session here. 

5 Hot Topics Facing Florida Condo Associations

Condo associations in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and all across South Florida have a lot going for them. The positives of living in an HOA are many, including access to shared amenities, property value protection and community cohesion, yet it’s the struggles and negative aspects of HOAs that tend to get the most attention.

Here are five challenges facing HOAs and what board members can do to tilt the scales away from negativity and remind residents how beautiful a place HOAs can be. 

  • Financial Burdens – The financial struggles facing HOAs and homeowners are many. Insurance premiums are rising, property taxes are rising, HOA dues and assessments are rising… and all these increases are leading to greater financial burdens on residents. Moreover, these burdens elevate tensions and homeowner discontent, which can ultimately lead to disputes between residents and the board. To ease some of these burdens, HOAs need to remain committed to accurate budget planning. They might also consider offering financial assistance programs or payment plans for affected owners. 
  • Transparency Issues – This is another hot topic in HOA communities. When condo owners feel left in the dark, the result is disenchanted residents and increased conflicts. Lack of transparency also increases the risk of mismanagement and uncontrolled board authority. To improve transparency, the board needs to provide consistent, comprehensive financial disclosures and offer accessible board meetings. They should also promote resident participation in governance decisions.
  • Education Gaps – Education is the cornerstone of change, yet there are significant education gaps among the board of directors. In many HOAs, you have volunteers with very limited experience leading multi-million dollar non-profit organizations. While there is a board certification requirement in Florida, a one- or two-hour class is not enough training to effectively lead an HOA. There should be a strong focus on continual learning, enhancing board competence, and providing opportunities like mentorship programs from experienced board members to increase education. 
  • Communication Breakdowns – So many issues within an HOA can be prevented when there is open and enhanced communication. This includes listening. Most disputes and breakdowns in communication result when one side doesn’t feel heard. Boards need to make genuine efforts to listen first, and then make decisions. They can also improve communication by sending newsletters, hosting more meetings or open forums, and encouraging feedback from residents. 
  • Mistrust and Distrust – Lastly, skepticism is an issue that runs deep in many condo associations. There is an antagonistic dynamic between residents and the board, and both sides are hesitant to help each other. Unfortunately, it’s this skepticism, mistrust and distrust that leads to board member recall and reform. The antidote to these challenges is once again communication. The board may be doing amazing, but without communication, everything falls apart. 

HOAs in Florida face many challenges, but with improved communication and transparency, many issues can be avoided altogether. This paired with increased educational opportunities and partnering with an effective team will result in a thriving organization and strong HOA. To learn more about how working with a community law attorney can help your association succeed, contact our team at Dania Fernandez and Associates, P.A. 

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