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HOA Leaders Need to Understand MRTA

Posted in Covenant Enforcement/Violations, Operations

Associations May Lose the Ability to Enforce Covenants and Restrictions as a Result of the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA).  While the MRTA Statute was primarily intended to simplify real property transfers by eliminating “stale claims”, association leaders and homeowners must understand that the recorded covenants and restrictions governing their communities may be considered “stale” after a certain period of time. I’m not referring to the duration of the covenants (usually a paragraph that says something to the effect that the covenants are effective for 50 years and then renew for successive periods of ten years) themselves.  I’m talking about a law that may nullify the duties and obligations set forth in the recorded documents during the initial period (or a renewal, as applicable). What would happen if your community didn’t have enforceable covenants?  Would homeowners pay assessments or maintenance fees (maybe some would – most probably would not)?  Would homeowners build swimming pools (if permitted by code) in the front yard or build an addition that made their house look like a Victorian Mansion in a Key West style community (they may)?  How would that impact everyone else?  How would you feel if your neighbor had Al Goldstein’s taste in art or the local Steelers fan decided his house must be black & gold and the association didn’t have the power to do anything about it? Section 712.02 of the Florida Statutes, in pertinent part, provides:

Any person having the legal capacity to own land in the state, who, alone or together with his predecessors in title has been vested with any estate in land of record for 30 years or more, shall have a marketable record title to such estate and land, which shall be free and clear of all claims except the matters set forth as exceptions to marketability in [F.S.] 712.03.

Accordingly, a person who has owned (or through his/her predecessors in title has owned) his/her land for 30 years or more has marketable record title free and clear of all restrictions (which includes Covenants) unless the restrictions are specifically disclosed and referenced in a document that passes title. The 30-year period commences upon the “root of title”, which (without being too technical) is basically the first deed to each lot that is transferred after the Covenants are recorded. Don’t worry  – there is good news.

  • First, most of the time MRTA does not impact condominiums or condominium association covenants and restrictions, but there are some cases where MRTA may apply if easements or other restrictions are not referenced in the Declaration.
  • Second, there are procedures set forth in the Statutes to preserve and protect covenants and restrictions that have not yet expired.  Handling this issue while the covenants are still in effect saves a lot of hassle (and expense) later on.
  • Third, there are also procedures for homeowners and homeowners associations to follow if the thirty (30) years has come and gone already to revive or renew the covenants and restrictions.

If you haven’t discussed this issue with your Community Association Attorney yet, don’t wait any longer.  Find out what steps you need to take to protect and enforce the recorded covenants.

  • Fran Griner

    Do you happen to know if a homeowner association attorney can motion the court to put a money judgment on members, if no fine involved and if they haven’t filed a complaint against them? Say, if the homeowner asked questions involving their covenants etc. and the attorney billed for his time defending his position, but refused to answer the questions.??

  • Fran Griner

    Do you happen to know if a homeowner association attorney can motion the court to put a money judgment on members, if no fine involved and if they haven’t filed a complaint against them? Say, if the homeowner asked questions involving their covenants etc. and the attorney billed for his time defending his position, but refused to answer the questions.??

  • maurice seigel

    I am in Bldg 192, Sunrise Lakes Ph4.Inc3. My condo is
    about 19yrs old, but some buildings may be close to the
    30 year point. I’m not sure if this is going to effect
    Condo’s and if the President of my Association is aware
    of this.

  • H. William Levy

    When a Board chooses to renew/revitalize the covenants and restrictions by affirmative Board vote are any homeowners who may have not been covered by the covenants circa 1980 now restricted by these ? Is there a requirement for the Board to research and list non-covered properties ?

  • Scott Shenton

    Does this apply to Condominiums, specifically single-building Condos ? This was also discussed in Mr. Poliakoff’s Condominium Q&A column on Sunday, March 7, 2010 — but he cited specifically “planned developments”. For this, are Condos “planned developments” ?

  • Loren Sunstrom

    If a contract or agreement has passed the deadline (30 years) does ut require a majority homeowner vote to renew an HOA covenant?
    Can a board of directors act independent of the homweowners to renew an HOA covenantd?

  • E.Hatton

    If the HOA Board of Directors knowingly lets an association member break an association rule [altering property/putting up a fence etc.] can they then prevent another member from doing the same? How would their decision affect that rule?

  • B. Alexander

    If an HOA Docs are set to expire under MRTA and the majority of the HOA members wish to preserve the documents, what can the members do to prevent the HOA’s Board who are voting for “self interest issues”, what can the HOA members do? Thanks in advance for your response.
    RESPONSE: Chapter 712. Florida Statutes contains the procedures associated with preserving covenants and restrictions. Chapter 720.403 et. seq. has the procedures for revitalizing governing documents.
    HOA members always have a voice – they choose the members of the board of directors and have the ability to remove directors.

  • B. Alexander

    Could you suggest a resolution? Our HOA Board consists of large parcel owners and hand picked members interested to divest their properties from our HOA. Along comes MRTA and hands them the voting rights to handle our renewal. They have decided not to, or better yet to create a fictious need for a Master Association with three separate associations. The large tract owners to be in one. The members all know they will then be able to legally vote themselves out of the asssociation. Will this then release them from the Deeded restrictions? They clearly are ignoring their Fiduiciary to the members. Any suggestions?
    Under Statute 720.307 it would appear that the developer who transferred the HOA over to the members is infringing on the last part of this statute as he has used his voting power to gain control of our board and has more than one elected board member representing his interests. What type of action would be required to correct and prevent further “self dealing” by our Board? Thank you in advance for your response.
    RESPONSE: Legal counsel needs to evaluate the specific facts and circumstances described here.

  • sid lipson

    our documents etc are over 30 years old an hoa what do we do now?????
    RESPONSE: There is a procedure to revitalize expired covenants in the statutes. A membership vote and specific procedures are involved.

  • Pingback: MRTA: Recorded Amendments Didn't Make a Difference | Florida Condo & HOA Legal Blog()

  • jenn

    Sister bought property in 1982. It is now 2014 and the board has bankrupted the association with a lawsuit in which they were wrong. Those who own and live in the hood want the HOA to go away. What can we do? Low income hood, most can not pay assessment for this lawsuit.

  • Does “covenants are effective for 50 years and then renew for successive periods of ten years” mean they were intended to continue indefinitely or for 60 years in this case. (Our document say 20 years and then “automatically extended for successive period of 10 year. — I’m thinking since “period” is singular it’s meaning only one 10 year period so a total of 30 years)

  • The duration of the covenants themselves (the language in the covenant) is completely distinct from the MRTA issue. Generally the language in the declaration is intended to extend the covenants indefinitely – but I have seen covenants that expire on their own terms unless the members vote to continue them.

  • Vicki Cooley

    Our HOA is in a mess. We are at the 30 year mark and past. I have a few questions. Does the 30 years start when the builders deed the properties or when each individual homeowner is deeded at closing? To renew our covenants and restrictions what percentage of the homeowners is needed to go forward? If there is not a vote from a homeowner I’ve read that’s a no to renew. Is that correct. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks