Levying fines can be a useful tool for community associations when trying to enforce their rules and covenants. However, many associations do not levy fines correctly subjecting them to challenge. Earlier this year, the Florida legislature passed HB 791, which clarified the proper way for associations to levy fines. The bill makes clear only the Board of Administration of an Association may levy a fine – as opposed to the fining committee.
Boards of administration may levy fines against members, tenants, or their guests and invitees if any rules or other governing documents are violated. Once the Board has determined to levy a fine, a 14-day letter must be sent to the violating party indicating the Board’s intention to impose a fine and advising of the opportunity for a hearing with the association’s fining committee. The fining committee must be comprised of three members who are not spouses or relatives of the Board, or an employee of the Association. The fining committee’s role is to approve or disapprove the fine imposed by the Board. The 2015 changes to both the Condominium Act and HOA Act clarified that the fining committee’s role is limited to solely confirming or rejecting the fine imposed by the Board.
For both homeowners and condominium associations, a fine cannot exceed $100.00 per day for up to ten (10) days of a continuing violation, for an aggregate of $1,000.00, unless otherwise stated in the governing documents. If the fine is confirmed by the fining committee, the association must send a letter to the owner, tenant, their guest or invitee, by mail or hand-delivery advising the fine was imposed. If the fining committee rejects the fine, the fine may not be imposed.
Although the Florida Statutes set forth a process for levying fines in condominium and homeowners associations, it is important to discuss the process with the association’s counsel as the association’s governing documents may impose additional procedures or restrictions.