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community_meeting(MCT)—QUESTION: We live in a community governed by a homeowner’s association. Our board is gradually ignoring more and more of our bylaws, causing the quality and appearance of the community to decline. What can I do?
—Don

ANSWER: Whether a co-op, condo or a homeowner’s association, community associations all have rules that control them. They are governed both by state law and by their own internal bylaws. Community association board members are elected by the property owners living in the community. The best thing that you can do to fix your situation is to get elected to the board of directors.

This way, you will have a say in how your community is run and what services are provided. Associations do need to follow the law and can be sued by a property owner for not doing so. Of course, suing your association will involve costs and legal fees and will likely create friction between you and some of your neighbors. Before you take this drastic step, I recommend that you attend your association meetings and politely draw attention to the problems in your community as you see them. Because your board members are neighbors who are volunteering their time to benefit the neighborhood, I strongly recommend tact in how you address your concerns. Talk to some of your neighbors and see if they share your concerns. If they do, get them to attend the board meetings as well and get involved in how your community is run.

While it may become necessary to take legal action to enforce the rules, you will most likely resolve the issues by getting involved and joining with your neighbors to help your whole community.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.

©2013 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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