Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) are legal entities that are loved, feared and hated, depending on who you talk to. Created by real estate developers to develop, sell and manage home communities, the groups have authority to enforce "covenants, conditions & restrictions," or the CC&R's, listed in a guideline, and to keep up common areas in the residential development.
They are usually voluntary, and are seen as a way for homeowners to protect their neighborhood and property values. While each state varies on the requirements to organize one, starting a Homeowner's Association in Florida is relatively easy.
Read Florida Homeowner's rules and regulations, starting with Chapter 720 in the state's statutes, to understand what legal rights and responsibilties the State of Florida requires of all HOAs. These may be found on line easily at various websites, including ccfjedu.net, or FLsenate.gov.
Talk to your neighbors and find out if they want an HOA. Make sure there is a good-sized group or majority interested in the HOA, or there's a good chance you will be wasting your time trying to organize one.
Schedule a community meeting in a building that will hold the amount of people you may expect, such as a school or church, if there is enough interest. Announce that a group vote will be taken, and a steering committee set up if the majority approves. Post fliers, go door-to-door or use social websites to advertise the meeting at least two to four weeks in advance.
Provide an agenda at the meeting, which should be a time to point out the pros and cons of the association. Allow attendees one to two minutes each to express a concern or ask a question before taking a vote. If the majority agrees, set up a steering committee of five to six people to begin the process of setting up the HOA. Announce the next meeting, which should occur within 30 days, and advise the community that nominations for officers will be accepted.
Start a website, even temporary, that can be used to inform the community and accept suggestions and concerns. Assign someone to monitor and update this on a regular basis.
Develop a list of bylaws within the steering community, which are the enforceable rules that are being presented to the community. Remember that while you cannot make everyone happy, you must be careful that no rule is unenforceable by law, or causes an undue financial strain on everyone; for example, making everyone remove standing fences or putting in new mailboxes just so they match.
Inform the community at the second meeting of the steering community's research, including what fees will be charged, when they are due, and how common areas will be handled. Provide handouts of the proposed bylaws to be voted on at the next meeting. Give out the website address for people to peruse, and announce the next meeting.
Elect officers and approve bylaws at the third meeting, officially kicking off the Homeowners Association for your neighborhood.
It is advisable to consult with a real estate attorney once the bylaws are written, to ensure that they are within the law and properly enforceable.
Please note that if there is a neighborhood group against the forming of an HOA, it is within their right to sue to stop the HOA's formation.