Tampa Bay FL Homeowners Association Fees...Ouch!
Tampa Bay FL Homeowners Association Fees…Ouch!
The west coast of Florida has been in recent news about skyrocketing Florida Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. Here in Florida, there is no state law imposing limits on how much an HOA can raise dues each year.
Average insurance increases to Florida homeowners associations is about 40%...that's a big ouch! In Tampa Bay some fees have gone up as much as $1000 from last year.
HOAs are raising dues or assessing the homeowners to recover the rising costs of maintenance and repairs. The need for upgrades and amenities all play a role in driving up these fees. Insurance premiums are increasing due to extreme weather events.
What exactly is a Homeowners Association?
A Homeowners Association is an organization that governs, plans, and enforces rules of the community. The HOA board that governs the community is made up of resident volunteers.
Typically, a property management company is hired to collect dues, arrange for repairs, manage correspondence and organize meetings. There are dues homeowners pay to live in a HOA community.
Why do Homeowners Associations increase fees?
Tampa Bay is not the only city in Florida experiencing growing HOA fees…other Florida cities are also:
Baldwin Park Townhomes, Orlando Florida has had a 300% increase in HOA fees that are now up to $1222 per month. Lakewood Park Condos in Altamonte Springs is facing a 93.5% increase from $404.12 to $787.12 per month.
These increases are not limited to only the state of Florida, either. Whispering Springs, located in Louisiana, which is still being managed by DR Horton, is raising fees from $500 to $700 per year.
(Those residents are angry as the community is not being maintained despite the increases.)
Normally, the HOA fees will go up annually, but usually only a few dollars like $10-50 per month annually. That is not the case anymore, unless there is a documented fee limit in the HOA document.
There is no Florida law that limits the amount the HOA fees can be increased.
You have no choice when you live in a HOA, as you are required to pay the fees or risk foreclosure on your home.
HOA and residents say these forces are causing the increases:
Inflation: The cost of repairs catapulted over the years due to inflation.
Insurance: Florida insurance has gone up 70% in the last few years.
Building requirements: On top of insurance increases, even Florida new condos building requirements which will fully take effect in December 2024, are set to increase condo fees.
Proposed HOA Legislation (2024) wants to reduce, eliminate fees, and increase expenses by having the HOA contribute 15% investment into the community.
When the Homeowners associations have less income and higher expenses, they pass it through to the homeowner. If there is not much money in the reserve fund, there is a higher likelihood that any additional expenses will be in the form of an assessment.
Homeowners say they cannot afford the increases, and HOA’s say they have no choice due to rising costs. It’s inevitable with the changes that Florida Homeowners Association and Condos Association fees will be rising.
The Intricacies of Florida’s Homeowners Associations in the Sunshine State
- You may have heard about the 70-year-old veteran that lived in his home for 45 years who had to get rid of his 40-pound dog because it was 5 pounds over the weight limit.
- Or…Joe DiVerde story in Wesley Chapel where the Homeowners Association began foreclosure proceedings because he did not receive the initial violation notice that he needs to paint his mailbox.
- Lastly…Cindy Decker in Central Florida won a $33,000 lawsuit after the Homeowner association erroneously placed a lien on her property for unpaid debt. There are countless shocking stories about the Florida Homeowners Association’s (HOA).
Florida has the second highest amount of HOA’s
With so many communities being gated and offering a vast array of amenities, HOA’s grew out of necessity. Now, HOA’s are created with almost all the new construction communities.
Florida Homeowners associations are so common that almost half the population (45%) or 9.6 million people reside in one.
Homeowners Associations exert authority and influence over your home, how you live, and how you must maintain your home. You must be in compliance with the rules.
Before you buy a home in the Sunshine State you should be aware of the pros and cons of living in a homeowner’s association community.
What type of homes are impacted by HOA?
Homeowners Associations cover townhome and single family homes and are governed under the Florida Statute 720.
A newer home almost guarantees the home is in an HOA.
Keep in mind condos are governed by the Condo Association under Florida Statute 718, while there are similarities, there are statutory differences.
What do home buyers need to know?
When searching for a home it's important to tell your buyer's agent about your lifestyle requirements as there may be some HOA rules that can impact your living preferences.
Here are some common considerations when buying a home.
Pets: There may be restrictions on the breed, weight, type of animal, and number of animals or no animals allowed at all. It's important that you view homes that match your pet parameters.
Parking: Some communities do not allow parking on the street or on rare occasions do not even allow you to park in the driveway. In addition, commercial vehicles, boats, motorcycles can be prohibited from any drive parking at all. Depending on the home's location and size, and number of vehicles you can park can also be limited.
Rental: If you are purchasing a home for rental potential then you should know if that community allows long term or short term rentals, and if approvals are needed.
Some also limit the amount of rentals you can do in a year or not allow them at all. Or you must own the property for 1-2 years before you can rent it out at all.
Other rules: Buyers should request the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions “CCR’s” before the close on a home.
Improvements to the exterior of the home may need HOA approval: This includes painting, fencing, landscaping and more.
There may be other home regulations for garage sales, flag display, holiday décor, signs and general home maintenance.
It is important for the home buyer to understand these HOA rules before making a purchase. Ask your buyer's agent for a copy.
Besides the rules, the Homeowners Association or Condo Association may require a background check and association approval before closing.
Home buyers should also understand the maintenance fees and any special assessments the association may charge.
Some of this information is available in the listing, but ultimately it will be in the Estoppel Certificate which will have the complete information.
This Estoppel Certificate will have the complete charges and is completed just prior closing or the home buyers could risk paying the seller fees.
Pros and Cons of Florida Homeowners Associations
Pros for Living Under the Palms:
Amenities and Services: You can have amenities such as resort style pools or a lagoon pool like in Epperson. Tennis, Pickleball, Basketball courts, trails, and parks. Gated communities, whether man guard gated or with push-button access are popular among home buyers.
HOA dues may include internet, cable, security, and trash collection and even lawn service. Amenities and services can vary from community to community.
Some may offer numerous amenities, especially in the very large master planned or 55+ community however, some communities may offer no amenities at all.
Community Appearance: Since the HOA typically enforces the rules for home maintenance and common areas the community should look well maintained, aesthetically pleasing, and inviting.
Dispute Resolution: HOA often handles disputes that arise from boundaries, noise complaints and pet policies. This reduces what a resident would need to deal with their own.
Community Engagement: These communities can have a sense of social engagement whether it's informal or formal. The larger communities offer formal events to bring the community together, whether it’s a community garage sale, holiday event, or entertainers as seen in the 55+ communities.
Property Value Stability: Maintaining the community and having a standard appearance will help to stabilize and increase property values.
Rules and Regulations: Even though the HOA has restrictive rules, it can also be a sense of order and predictability, by ensuring everyone adheres to the same standard.
Advocacy and Representation: HOA can be a unifying voice for the neighborhood that has to respond to external issues.
Cons to Living in an HOA:
Fees and Assessment: Let’s face it. It costs to live in an HOA.
The HOA can charge each property for membership.
These fees have a standard set pay frequency of monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
This covers the cost of amenities, reserves for replacement of amenities, maintenance of common elements, insurance of common elements, property management and other day to day community expenses.
If these fees are not sufficient to cover an unexpected expense, then the HOA can charge a special assessment in addition to the normal fees.
What Home Buyers should know!
When you live in a gated community the HOA (not the municipality) is responsible for maintaining the roads inside the community.
Strict Rules and Regulations: There are strict limitations on what you can do and how you can live.
Such as exterior paint colors, landscaping changes, fence colors, pets, holiday decorations, parking, trash etc.
Potential for Conflicts: Disagreement among HOA members and HOA board members can occur with increased HOA fees, scope of projects, and disagreements on management decisions.
Limited Personalization and Control: You have less freedom to do what you want to the homes, or if you can do it at all.
Risk of Lien and Foreclosure: Failures to pay dues or comply with the rules can result in added interest, penalties and even foreclosure. It is not uncommon to hear a HOA foreclosing on a home.
Management Quality Varies: The property management companies can vary in professional, enforcement, mismanagement of funds, neglected maintenance, and lack of organization.
Resale Limitations: There are homeowners that simply do not want to be managed by an HOA, pay for or use the amenities of an HOA. Therefore, it may not attract 100% of the buyer market.
Privacy Concerns: Some owners do not like their privacy eliminated by neighbors or HOA monitoring when and if they comply with the rules.
New Legislation Florida HOA Rules Effective in 2023
Effective July 1, 2023. The HOA can no longer prohibit members from storing items that are not visible from the front, unless there is a local ordinance that prohibits the storage of items.
Homeowners can now store items such as boats, trailers, gym equipment, campers as long as it’s not visible from the front of the home.
Effective October 1, 2023, more items that impact HOA’s
Now HOA members cannot be fined or suspended unless they have been provided a two week violation notice to their preferred mail or email address.
In addition, it provides more information on how members can fix the violation.
There is greater transparency to members on listing agenda meeting items and handling member deposits.
In addition, HOA board members can now face misdemeanor charges if they prevent, influence, or threaten a member's ability to vote.
2024 HOA Proposed Florida Legislature Items
- Limiting HOA Fines to $100 for first offense instead $1000 for example.
- Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCR’s) will be made available to every member in 2024.
- Home buyers receive HOA Disclosure; they will be entitled to more documents or they can cancel the contract.
- Prohibit HOA’s from charging Estoppel's fees.
- The HOA pays 15% to invest outside their neighborhood and into the community. (This is shocking since HOA are not profit centers and are barely covering expenses as it is).
While there are some positive changes for home buyers with access to more documentation in the home buying process, there could be an increase to HOA fees, if legislation reduces income and increases expenses.
Should the Homeowners Association not have enough money to cover the changes, the losses will be passed onto homeowners through increased fees or assessments.
Can you opt out of a Homeowners Association?
Yes, if the HOA membership is optional. Otherwise no, because if it is not optional, then it is mandatory which means that you must be a dues paying member of the community Homeowners Association.
In fact, Florida statute requires that presence of an HOA be disclosed to a purchaser prior to signing a contract or the buyer can cancel the contract within 3 days of notification.
If you do not want to be in HOA, then you need to find a single-family home not in an HOA.
That however will limit your choices for homes to choose from…
Are there homes without a Homeowners Association?
Yes, but you may have to be flexible with location and the age of the home. Most of the homes that are not in a HOA are located near city centers and tend to be older homes or rural areas.
With 49,000 Florida Homeowners Associations and 25,000 Condo Associations, it is a smart decision to work with a Tampa Buyers Broker that can navigate buyers concerns and the association’s process.
Serving all Homebuyers needs on the West Coast of Florida. Ask me anything…
Buyers Broker Erika Phelan 727-293-5896
Buyers Broker of Florida 727-202-9130
Welcome to the Sunshine State!