GOOD LUCK!! It takes time and effort and help from other disgruntled owners, but it's done all the time!
Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL
Articles of Incorporation of the HOA
By-Laws of the HOA
Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions
The CCRs are usually the most restrictive and most important of these. The vast majority of CCRs provide for how assessments are calculated and when they're due. Some contain provisions for the maximum rate at which assessments can change, but also provide for special assessments to meet extraordinary expenses.
It is possible that the board has the sole power to set assessments and without limits, but also they may be subject to annual limits. Also, your board is elected by the membership (homeowners) - so if you don't like what they're doing, dump them and run yourself.
If they're empowered to set assessments, which they usually are, appeal probably does not exist. However, if you and your neighbors show up en masse at the next meeting, they may get the message that you're unhappy.
HOAs have far too much unfettered power and the legal route to stop abuses is expensive because it requires going to county court with a lawyer. You can't even go down to JP court and get relief for a $200 fine. Small claims (which are handled by JP) now can be as high as $10,000, but take your HOA complaint somewhere else, because JP court won't listen to your case. They law needs to change.
#2 Get on the board.
#3 Go volunteer with the board.....get involved. Maybe their costs have gone up and they don't have the time or resources to investigate more. Can you bid out services to lower your prices. Can homeowners do some sweat equity to lower the costs of repairs.
#4 Be a resource to them, not a problem. Somethings may be out of their control. You need insurance, you need to have the landscaping taken care of, you need good reserves for replacement. You may have anticipated expenses coming down the line.
Go find out what is going on before you protest.
Governing an HOA isn't easy, partially because HOAs don't generally have the ability to operate in the red. One problem that HOAs are facing is the number of owners who are delinquent in their dues, the HOAs only recourse is to raise the dues on the remaining homeowners.
But as to your specific situation, you really need to rely on your governing documents.
The Board is elected by the owners, so educate yourself on the timing of elections so that if you are unhappy with the representation and process, you have a chance to voice your opinion and achieve change. As a homeowner, you do want to be sure the HOA is run well and the finances are in good order. If the increases/assessments are appropriate and necessary, then contesting them may be tough. But as a homeower, you do want to understand them.
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