QUESTION: I live in a neighborhood governed by a community association. Several months ago, I had words with a neighbor who happens to be our association’s president. Since then, I have been receiving warning notices from the management company about every little thing I do in violation of the rules (wrong color mailbox, front lawn too high). Other residents who should be receiving these notes say they haven’t heard a word. What can I do?
ANSWER: As small as the violations may seem, you need to follow the rules, even if others aren’t doing so. As the saying goes: Two wrongs don’t make a right. Even though you haven’t spoken to other neighbors who have received violation letters, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t being sent out. You just may not be talking to the actual violators.
Sometimes, though, it is more than just a coincidence. The association president may really be singling you out as part of a “selective enforcement“ campaign. Community associations are required to treat all of their members fairly and equally. You may have a case if you can show that the association is picking and choosing which rules to enforce in an arbitrary or capricious way - or that you were singled out for enforcement while other members with the same violations were not.
But before you pursue this any further, understand that this would be a very difficult case to prove - and it would be expensive, too. It’s probably just easier to bring your property into compliance.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.