People ask all the time, why do you live in an HOA neighborhood in Florida? Why not just build in a neighborhood without an HOA? The answer to that is- you guessed it- government rules and regulations. Now there is no law, rule, or regulation that says that a neighborhood must be controlled by an HOA, but there is an agency that has that practical effect.

You may or may not be aware that Florida used to be mostly swampland. In fact, it still would be if it weren’t for pretty robust laws and regulations on flood control. On top of that, Florida is built upon an underground lake known as the Florida Aquifer. The aquifer is just a large underground lake that fills the limestone that the entire state is built upon. When the level of water in the aquifer falls, we get sinkholes and the weight of the ground above collapses the now empty underground limestone caves. So Florida has a limited amount of freshwater.

Enter the South Florida Water Management District. (SFWMD- pronounced “swif mud”) This agency controls everything from who may drill a well to how much of the area of your development must contain flood control features like retention ponds, ditches, and even how much of your property can be covered in non permeable surfaces like concrete. They even control the vegetation that grows in those areas, and by control I mean that they tell property owners and developers to take care of it. (pdf alert) Is it a bit heavy handed? A little, but that is why we can build here, instead of Florida being a swamp.

This means that a percentage of each residential development must be grassy areas, landscaped, and dedicated to retention ponds. Those flood control features and permeable surfaces must be maintained at the expense of those who live in the developed area. For a neighborhood, that means mowing, fencing off, and caring for the vacant land. If that doesn’t happen, SFWMD can and will take legal action against the homeowners of the development.

In order to have a legal framework to enforce each homeowner taking care of this, instead of some skating by without contributing, developers create HOAs who then take care of these “common areas.” As long as the HOA is there, it also takes on more traditional HOA rules like neighborhood pools, maintaining property values through rules (called covenants), and other functions.

So you can disband the HOA, but as a homeowner, you are still liable for maintaining those features, but you now have no way as an individual to make your neighbors pay their fair share of those fees. That’s right- you can be stuck with paying it, unless you want to lose your house along with the crackhead who lives down the block and decided not to pay his share because he is a crackhead and doesn’t care.

That’s why more than 80% of Florida’s homes sold in the past few decades are in HOA communities, and most of the rest of them are doublewide trailers whose occupants live next door to or with a meth lab. There are some nice homes that are not in HOA areas, but they are really expensive.

So being stuck with an HOA, your only real course of action is to do your best to keep busybodies from passing rules that mandate certain paint colors, tell you what color your landscaping lights can be, or whether or not you can park a boat in your driveway.

That’s why I do what I can to ensure that those sorts of rules don’t get passed. The law in Florida says that an HOA can’t modify its covenants unless 2/3 of the property owners vote at a meeting to do so. You can’t exclude a property owner who doesn’t live there. You can’t have a secret meeting, and it isn’t 2/3 of those present at the meeting, it is 2/3 of all owners. Now an owner can give his proxy vote to another owner, but the proxy must state the particular covenant that is to be voted on AND the date of the meeting that the proxy is valid for. This is to prevent shenanigans and those with ill intent from changing things behind others’ backs. So I use that to my advantage. As long as I can get 1/3 of property owners to vote no on a covenant change, the rules stay as they are. A property owner can vote no by proxy, or by simply not coming to the meeting. I do what I can to make people see it my way and keep the rules the way that they are. I can look at the guy in the mirror just fine knowing that I kept a tyrant from ruling over the people who live in the neighborhood.

If you are a person who has a problem with those tactics, then how in the world will you ever have the stomach for a civil war? You don’t even have the stomach for parliamentary maneuvering, and you think you are going to survive civil unrest? Or did you think that the coming troubles are going to be a debating society where everyone obeys Roberts’ Rules of Order and plays fair?

Categories: Uncategorized


Big Ruckus D · August 24, 2023 at 2:23 pm

In short, if you aren’t actively engaged in preventing authoritarian cunts from imposing on you, you _will_ be imposed upon by authoritarian cunts. This applies at it’s smallest scale to dealing with the bossy sibling as a child, all the way up to the largest govt entity stealing your rights and property away under color of law.

Those who “know they know better” and will get a chubby from forcing you to do it their way are a cancer that must constantly be cut out and irradiated from one’s existence, if one doesn’t wish to end up in a miserable situation.

For HOA’s, the only effective defense is to be the obstacle that keeps these shitheads off the board and marginalized to the point where the most they can do is bitch, without wielding any actual power. Been there and done that.

Dirty Dingus McGee · August 24, 2023 at 3:19 pm

My business partner lives over in Apollo (Apology) Beach, on the water. No HOA and minimal covenants. If it wasn’t for the fact that I can lean against his house and nearly piss on either neighbors house, it’s a nice neighborhood. He was brought up in Hialeah so for him it’s normal being that close to your neighbor. Me, a country bumpkin, would almost prefer the doublewide with the meth lab neighbor out in the sticks.

Paulb · August 25, 2023 at 6:26 am

I’m the turd in the punchbowl. Annoying as it is, I like my HOA. People buy into my overpriced neighborhood and have to keep their property nice. The paint color thing, yeah, it’s a pain in the balls. It took me 6 months to get permission to switch from 20 year old piss yellow, excuse me, lemon, paint to a nice pale grey. And while the contrary dingleberry next door hates everyone, he can’t paint his house F-you black like he probably would otherwise, so it’s like living next door to a well-kept empty house. As I just got back from Brazil, I can state definitively that the HOA fee is worth it just for keeping people quiet at night. Sure, I can’t mount an outdoor TV and surround sound in my pool area and blast it at all hours, and neither can anyone else. Worth it.

    Divemedic · August 25, 2023 at 9:05 am

    I like my HOA, too. I keep it that way by making sure that they don’t pass rules that are overly intrusive. The HOA that I had before this one would fine you for having a dirty mailbox, or if they could see your trashcans, even though those rules were not in the covenants. They then placed a lien on my house and threatened to foreclose.
    However, the HOA president had a pig for a pet, which WAS against the covenants.
    I went to the next HOA meeting with photos of the board members’ houses- complete with dirty mailboxes visible trashcans, and a copy of the city code that prohibited pigs and chickens as pets. I told them that if they continued with fining me, that there would be a lawsuit coming. I followed it up with a certified letter to the HOA attorney. I got a release of lien from their attorney a week later.

Birdog357 · August 25, 2023 at 7:15 am

How can the government make you liable/responsible for property you don’t own? That’s the real problem. Oppressive government. Florida sounds like a shithole to me…

    Divemedic · August 25, 2023 at 9:09 am

    It is in the deed restrictions that you agree to when you buy the property. It’s a price that one must pay to live in former swamp land. The alternative is that the government uses imminent domain to take people’s land, then taxes everyone and uses the stolen money and land to enact flood control.
    I like Florida’s way better. At least I am not paying for someone else’s retention pond who lives halfway across the state. That’s one reason why are taxes are low here.

    And we as an HOA do own the land. That’s why we have to mow it and take care of it. It’s called the common property of the HOA.

      Birdog357 · August 26, 2023 at 9:25 pm

      Give it to the government. It’s their rules, their problem. Where I live used to be called the Everglades of the North(Grand Kankakee Marsh). It’s only livable because of our extensive drainage ditches. The whole area pays a special property tax, and the county maintains them. I don’t have karen’s running my life nor an extra layer of government.

        Divemedic · August 26, 2023 at 9:45 pm

        I’d rather deal with an HOA than a large bureaucracy that has cops with qualified immunity. The county maintaining your ditches has the power of cops and taxes. You have no say in the decisions that they make.

Ralph · August 25, 2023 at 2:34 pm

When we moved to FL the first item at the top of our property list was no HOA. We bought in an unincorporated area of north Brevard. It is semi-rural with most homes on an acre or more of land. We paid $180k 9 years ago. Most houses in the area are well maintained because of pride in ownership, not rules. We have neighbors that actually look out for each other. Livestock from chickens to cattle are common. Is this unusual for FL? Absolutely! But it is possible.

    Divemedic · August 25, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    It is. You have three types of homes in Florida:
    – In a HOA
    – More than 40 years old
    – Really expensive

Botan · August 26, 2023 at 12:12 pm

Honestly, I never thought of HOA’s being a, possible, good thing.
Much like keeping a large aggressive dog on a leash. Keep the crazies out.
All the other (media) info I have seen on HOA’s has shown abuse by the HOA.

    Divemedic · August 26, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    They CAN be a good or bad thing, just like any form of government. That’s why it’s important to be active in your HOA. There are always people who will abuse power to be petty tyrants.

Comments are closed.