Can I sue my homeowner association at the Small Claims Courts?

Each condo owner has the right to sue their respective homeowner association or its board.

In this article, I define the term “homeowner association”.

In addition, I also advise on whether you can sue a homeowner association and some compelling reasons why you should.

What is a homeowner association?

An image of members of a homeowner association holding copies of their title deeds

A homeowner association (HOA) comprises the owners of condominiums located within a single housing complex or estate.

The HOA is responsible for making and enforcing rules concerning the community of condominium owners. For example, they can make rules concerning shared spaces and common areas such as swimming pools and parking lots.

To join a HOA, one needs to purchase a condo in a complex or estate with planned developments, upon which they automatically join the respective association.

The members of the HOA will usually vote for a board of directors who will manage its affairs including liabilities.

This board, through voting of members of the HOA, decides on important matters concerning the homeowner’s community. For example, they can make new rules.

A HOA typically describes its rules as restrictive covenants in a document called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

This document outlines rules and penalties for violation of such rules. For example, the document contains the homeowner association fees also known as HOA Fees.

HOA fees work as the association’s reserve fund, which is set aside for major renovation projects or emergency use. These fees are also used for the association’s administration duties and to maintain common areas of the complex.

Failure for a member to pay HOA Fees usually attracts penalties that might lead the member to seek legal redress by instituting a lawsuit against the HOA.

Can I sue my homeowner association?

Can I sue my homeowner association at the Small Claims Courts?

As discussed in my “the legal rights of condo owners in Florida,” condo owners have a right to initiate a lawsuit against their respective homeowner association.

As a condo owner, you can sue a homeowners association if they have violated your rights as a condo owner.

One can confirm if they have a valid reason for suing an association by following several steps which include cross-checking if the association has violated the terms of its CC&Rs, its by-laws, its articles of the association, and the rules and regulations of the HOA.

If you want to sue your HOA you should contact an attorney for more advice.

In addition, if you wish to sue the HOA and self-represent yourself in such a suit, then you can consult a legal document preparer to help you complete the right forms.

What are some of the reasons why I should sue my homeowner association?

When an association has violated your rights as a member of the association, then you need to initiate legal action.

Some of the reasons why one can sue the homeowners association include:

1. Harassment or Discrimination

Suppose you are facing harassment or discrimination from your respective HOA based on grounds such as disabilities, race, marital status, etc. In that case, you have a right to pursue legal action against your HOA.
Such harassment or discrimination may happen when the HOA has not provided reasonable accommodation.

Examples of an instances of reasonable accommodation include a directive for the HOA to ensure that climbing ramps are present anywhere near a staircase.

In addition, if the HOA also denies you some acts such as prohibiting you from flying a flag, you can sue on these grounds.

2. Breach of contract and terms of the by-laws etc.

The members of a homeowner association are governed by a document that contains Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

If the CC&Rs state that the homeowners association will pay for repairs of housing defects such as plumbing leaks then you hire a plumber to fix a leak and the association refuses a refund, then you are entitled to sue the association

3. Property damage inside the residence

If damage to your property happens as a result of the HOA’s negligence in fixing common areas, then you can sue for property damage.

Also, members of the association can sue the HOA for negligence if they fail to maintain the common areas resulting in property damage, physical injuries, or accidents such as slips and falls.

Remember to check the by-laws to find out if you are entitled to property damage. For example, you might not be entitled to damages if you park your vehicle in a parking lot with a warning such as “Park At Your Own Risk.”

4. Disputes over Fines and HOA Fees

If the HOA makes one pay unreasonable fines or improper fees, you should insist on reimbursement. If the homeowners association fails to do so, then you can sue them.

Additionally, you can also take legal action against the board for misappropriation of funds.

5. Election Disputes.

Members of the homeowners association can initiate a lawsuit against the association if they are disputing election results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions asked by condo owners.

1. Can the board convene an impromptu annual meeting of homeowners?

No. The Condominium Act specifically states that each member of the association should receive a written notice from the board.

This written notice should include an agenda.

It can be sent through mail or delivered to each unit owner at least fourteen days before the annual meeting of the unit owners.

The board must also post a notice of the meeting in a conspicuous place on the property at least fourteen continuous days before the meeting.

2. Can a member of an association recover the money they used in a lawsuit if they win this lawsuit against the board or the homeowners association?

A unit owner prevailing in an action between the association and the unit owner may recover his reasonable attorney’s fees and may recover additional amounts as determined by the court to be necessary to reimburse the unit owner for his share of assessments levied by the association to fund its litigation expenses

3. Can members of the association restrict me from selling my house?

Generally, yes. The Condominium Act expressly permits a declaration of condominium to “include covenants and restrictions concerning . . . transfer of the units.” Thus, an association may restrict the sale or rental of a condo unit.

Additionally, compared to the restrictions within the declaration of the condominium, the rules and regulations do not have a strong presumption of validity and enforceability.