Your Guide to HOA Fees in Florida
You may find house or condo hunting in Florida more complicated than in other parts of the country because of the added fees associated with owning a home. Almost every subdivision forms a homeowners’ association (HOA) and each HOA sets the community’s fees. These could get charged monthly or quarterly, so when you shop for your new home, you need to consider these fees as well as the potential mortgage payment and property taxes.
An Introduction to Florida HOA Fees
While you might think an HOA fee is an HOA fee, much like a cigar is just a cigar, that isn’t so in Florida because the various communities refer to them by different names. Some communities charge more than one fee. Commonly used terms include:
- Amenity Fees,
- Community Development District (CDD) Fees,
- Community Service Fees,
- Maintenance Fees,
- HOA dues,
- HOA Fees.
This doesn’t become a problem unless you don’t know to ask point-blank about all of the fees associated with home ownership or you land a not-so-savvy realtor who only tells you about the fee called an HOA fee. You might consider a home in a subdivision that charges other fees, such as a Community Development District (CDD) fee or an amenity fee. Once you sign the papers to purchase the home, you start receiving unexpected bills from the HOA. When you are house hunting, ask specifically how many fees or dues each homeowner incurs and the frequency at which they’re charged – monthly, quarterly, or annually. You should also request a fee schedule, so you know the amount of each.
Variations in Fee Amounts
Pursuant to Section 720.308(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes “Assessments levied pursuant to the annual budget or special assessment must be in the member’s proportional share of expenses as described in the governing document, which share may be different among classes of parcels based upon the state of development thereof, levels of services received by the applicable members, or other relevant factors.“
In an HOA this same Statute requires the governing documents to describe the manner in which expenses are shared and specify the member’s proportional share thereof. So, you must check your governing documents to determine if there is a proportional share provision, however, the good news is that many HOA’s do not have this provision and therefore must charge everyone the same amount of the same type of fee. If the fee is for the maintenance of the common elements, then it’s the same for all homeowners. If the fee is for a special purpose, (called a special assessment) then it too is the same for all homeowners, however, it will most likely be a different amount than the fee for the maintenance of the common elements.
What Do Fees Pay For?
HOA fees typically pay for the HOA office, its personnel, public area maintenance, security, and amenities. You might think that an HOA with cheap fees is an awesome find, but that means you get very little in amenities. The development might lack community buildings or lawn care in shared spaces. The fees also pay for any tennis or basketball courts, swimming pool, or community center the subdivision has. All of these items are generally referred to as the common elements.
How an Attorney Helps with HOA Fees
Sometimes your HOA uses the fee money inappropriately. Whether the HOA neglected the common elements property or misappropriated funds, you could need the services of an HOA lawyer like those at Ferrer Law Group. Our attorneys remain current on condo law and HOA law.
If you are on the Board of Directors for an HOA, you may need an HOA lawyer to help you determine the community’s fees. At Ferrer Law Group, we can help you determine the legality of the fee you want to charge. Our lawyers can advise you since they constantly remain up to date on changes in Florida HOA and condo law.
The most common area where the need for an experienced HOA or condo lawyer occurs is in the payment of these fees to the HOA. Either the HOA needs an experienced HOA lawyer to help them navigate the complex condo and HOA laws or the homeowner needs an experienced HOA lawyer to help then defend a claim by the HOA that the homeowner failed to pay these fees.
We offer our expertise to Broward County, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County residents, so if you need an HOA or condo law expert, you can contact Ferrer Law Group today for help with your HOA questions. Let us take the headache out of Florida house hunting. Contact us today about your HOA fees.
Legal Disclaimer: The materials within this website are for informational purposes only. They are not legal advice and should not be used as such. Transmission of the information in this website is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet users and readers should not act upon this information and should seek professional legal counsel.