Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wilshire Lakes, Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Clash With HOAs Over Metal Roofs

I was reading an article regarding a Florida homeowners association in Naples that has denied a family the right to replace their existing roof with a metal roof. This incident is not an isolated incident. In Orlando, the same thing has been playing out in the courts with the Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. (SLHHOA) and a homeowner who is not even in their subdivision. The SLHHOA's excuse is that the metal roof is not up to community-wide standards, determined by the board, and that it does not look good cosmetically.

The situations that led up to the roof change in both Wilshire Lakes and Sand Lake Hills is very similar, as well as the association response. Unlike the Wilshire Lakes home, the homeowner in Sand Lake Hills changed their roof right after the hurricanes to prevent any damage. The SLHHOA was apparently upset that they did not fill out an architectural review form and demanded the roof be replaced with a shingle roof. When the homeowner put up a fight, the SLHHOA moved on to file a lawsuit.

According to the Orlando homeowner's covenants and restrictions, the SLHHOA does not have the authority to enforce their C&Rs. According to the C&Rs, "in order for
such Homeowners Association to be entitled to invoke the powers of enforcement as herein granted to the Homeowners Association by these Covenants and Restrictions, said Homeowners Association shall consist of the Owners of not less than twenty-five (25) Lots in this Subdivision." The SLHHOA is the association for another subdivision with a similar name and consists of non-owners of that particular subdivision - the President does not own a home in any of the Sand Lake Hills subdivisions and the remaining board do not live in the particular subdivision in which the C&Rs are for. Because their association does not solely consist of owners of that particular section, the SLHHOA does not meet the requirements set forth in the covenants and restrictions to enforce the architectural guidelines.

In the Naplesnews.com article, I found a quote from a Community Association Institute representative and industry lobbyist, Bill White, in which he stated that "the uniformity of the property is in jeopardy if they can put whatever they want on their roof," with "they" referring to the homeowner. I placed the emphasis on the pronouns "they" and "their" because it is just amazing to me that somebody has the audacity to want to exercise that level of control over another person's personal property, but this belief seems to be endemic of homeowners associations. The law firm representing the SLHHOA, Larsen and Associates, consists of a Community Association Institute representative, Frank A. Ruggieri, so you can definitely see where the association's loyalties lie, and it is not with the homeowner.

The interesting thing about denying metal roofs is that they may be considered protected under Florida law and that much like clotheslines and skylights, a homeowners association would have no power to prevent a homeowner from installing these "passive solar devices." While the courts ruled tubular skylights to be permissible, the issue regarding these energy efficient roofs has come under question, with industry leaders believing community associations should retain the rights to determine whether a particular roof is appropriate. Bill White had also indicated in the article that the CAI will look to push legislation to favor homeowners associations (I must have missed the chapter in my American Government class when corporate rights preceded citizen's rights).

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