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HOA Can Penalize Speeding

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Q: Can a homeowners’ association set speed limits that are below county limits? If so, how can they enforce these regulations? (T.H., via e-mail)

A: In general, yes. Most governing documents grant the board of directors the authority to make rules regarding the use of common areas. Rules of a homeowners’ association can be stricter than the requirements of law, as long as the rules are reasonable.

The association has a variety of enforcement tools available, with fining and suspension of amenity use rights often being the most effective for this type of violation. However, the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act provides that a suspension may not prohibit an owner from having access over common area roads.

An association that intends to fine or suspend must comply with the procedures in the law. The board must establish a committee which, by a majority vote, has the right to approve or disapprove a fine or suspension levied by the board. In general, 14 days’ notice must be provided of an opportunity to be heard in front of the committee.

In cases where fines or suspensions are not a practical option, legal action can be taken in court, after a warning letter has been given and a mediation process followed.

There are sometimes questions on how speeding can be proven. I am aware of several communities that use radar guns and speed detection signs. In my opinion, these would normally be considered reliable and not subject to the same requirements that would apply in a traffic court setting, which is quasi-criminal in nature, such as training and machine calibration requirements.

However, the association would need to show that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the measuring device is accurate and being properly used. I also believe that there are situations where an average observer can reasonably conclude that a driver is exceeding an established speed limit.

Agreements with local units of government and law enforcement agencies are also common. These agreements authorize local law enforcement agencies to enforce state traffic laws on the association roads, as permitted by Section 316.006 of the Florida Statutes.

Q: Can our condominium manager accept gifts from vendors? (S.K., via email)

A: No. 718.111(1)(a) of the Florida Condominium Act states that an officer, director, or manager may not solicit, offer to accept, or accept anything or service of value or kickback for which consideration has not been provided for his or her own benefit or that of his or her immediate family, from any person providing or proposing to provide goods or services to the association. Transgressions can subject the violator to civil penalties (including loss of license for a manager) and possible criminal penalties.

The law does permit an officer, director, or manager to accept services or items received in connection with trade fairs or education programs.

CAI ANNOUNCES TRADE AND EXPO

On Friday, April 3, 2020, the Community Associations Institute – South Gulf Coast Chapter will be conducting its Annual Trade Expo at the Alico Arena on the grounds of the Florida Gulf Coast University. The Expo is open to the public from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.

Over 100 exhibitors providing products, services, and information to community association managers, boards, and residents will have booths.

Continuing education courses for community association managers and board members, “Legal Update” and “Board Certification,” will be presented from 8:00-10:00 A.M. and 8:30-10:30 A.M., respectively. Registration for these programs can be made online at www.southgulfcoastchaptercai.com.

Cash and raffle prizes will be awarded throughout the day. This year’s show features a “Taste of the Expo” with a food court featuring restaurants from Fort Myers and Naples. All events are open to the public, free of charge.

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