Question: I was recently elected to the board of directors for my homeowners association. One of the issues that led me to run was better enforcement of the restrictions in our governing documents. One of the homes in our community installed landscaping which violates our regulations. I have learned that the board was aware of this landscaping issue when it happened and that is was installed over ten years ago. Is there anything the association can do now? (C.G. by e-mail)
Answer: Probably not. The governing documents of a homeowners association, which typically include the declaration of covenants and restrictions, the articles of incorporation, and the bylaws, are generally considered a contract between the association and the owners. Like any contract, the documents can be enforced by either party if there is a breach of contract, such as an owner installing landscaping without approval, if approval is required by the documents.
Florida law imposes a statute of limitations on actions to enforce contracts. Section 95.11(2) provides that an action to enforce a contract must be brought within five years. Here, if the owner in question installed landscaping, which was a violation of the governing documents, the association would be required to bring an action to enforce the governing documents within five years. If the landscaping was installed over ten years ago, it is likely that the association would be barred by the statute of limitations bringing an enforcement action.