Many of our clients, both condominium and homeowners’ associations alike, often ask about the proper procedures for issuing and collecting a fine. Section 720.305, Florida Statutes, which governs homeowners’ associations, states as follows:
The association may levy reasonable fines. A fine may not exceed $100 per violation against any member or any member’s tenant, guest, or invitee for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine may be levied by the board for each day of a continuing violation, with a single notice and opportunity for hearing, except that the fine may not exceed $1,000 in the aggregate unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine of less than $1,000 may not become a lien against a parcel. In any action to recover a fine, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs from the nonprevailing party as determined by the court.
On the other hand, Section 718.303, Florida Statutes, which governs condominium associations, reads in relevant part:
The association may levy reasonable fines for the failure of the owner of the unit or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association. A fine may not become a lien against a unit. A fine may be levied by the board on the basis of each day of a continuing violation, with a single notice and opportunity for hearing before a committee as provided in paragraph (b). However, the fine may not exceed $100 per violation, or $1,000 in the aggregate. Emphasis Added
Did you notice the differences? Most notably, a condominium association’s fine cannot exceed $1,000.00 and cannot become a lien against a Unit. Conversely, a homeowner association’s fine can become a lien against the Lot if the fine is at least $1,000.00 in the aggregate and depending on your governing documents the fine may be able to exceed $1,000.00.
Moreover, please keep in mind that the Board must appoint a fining committee to accept or reject the fine. The fining committee must consist of at least three (3) members appointed by the Board who are not officers, directors, or employees of the association, or the spouse, parent, child, brother, or sister of an officer, director, or employee. The role of the fining committee is simply to accept or reject the fine, and the fining committee cannot accept the fine at a reduced amount.
Always confer with your legal counsel to make sure your following all of the appropriate steps contained in your Governing Documents and Florida Statutes. Our Firm recommends that both condominium and homeowners’ associations have a written fining policy in place, thoroughly outlining the fining process.
Please stay tuned for Fining Procedures (Part 2) – Converting a Fine to an Assessment. As always, please do not hesitate to contact our Firm for any of your condominium or homeowners’ association needs.