HOMEOWNERS' DISPUTE MEDIATION IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA
HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (HOA) MEDIATION AND CONDOMINIUM OWNERS ASSOCIATION (COA) MEDIATION
Resolute Mediation & Arbitration, Inc. (RM&A, Inc.) team of Florida Supreme Court Certifed Mediators, each certified in their area of practice, provides mediation services to HOAs and COAs.
Typical dispute mediation, but not limited to:
Disputes between associations and unit owners or tenants
Disputes between associations and contractors/subcontractors
Disputes between associations and vendors
Disputes between master associations and sub-associations
The Legislature recently amended Section 720.311, Florida Statutes, which effectively ended the Division’s mandatory HOA mediation program and replaced it with a private mediation program. A law which took effect on July 1, 2007 now provides that parties to homeowner’s disputes may use private mediators to assist them in resolving their issues. The statute requires the aggrieved party (plaintiff) to send the responding party(defendant) a written demand to participate in presuit mediation in the following format: STATUTORY OFFER TO PARTICIPATE IN PRESUIT MEDIATION.
Homeowners associations, commonly known as HOAs, have existed in Florida for decades. On Oct.1, 1995, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring HOAs to incorporate. On June 30, 2009, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 2080, which allows HOA members to cover their lawns with native grasses without fear of retribution from HOA boards, which often set restrictions on grass species.
Homeowners associations consist of an elected board and members. The association represents the interests of residents. The board, chosen by members through election, enacts and amends governing documents that include rules, known as covenants and restrictions. These rules are designed to maintain the character of a neighborhood and protect homeowners against drop in homes value.
Associations also assess and collect fees from homeowners to pay for the maintenance costs of common areas such as meeting halls, golf courses, private roads and gated neighborhood entrance ways.
|Florida Statute 720.311: Dispute Resolution - Homeowners' Associations
(1) The Legislature finds that alternative dispute resolution has made progress in reducing court dockets and trials and in offering a more efficient, cost-effective option to litigation. The filing of any petition for arbitration or the serving of a demand for presuit mediation as provided for in this section shall toll the applicable statute of limitations. Any recall dispute filed with the department pursuant to s. 720.303(10) shall be conducted by the department in accordance with the provisions of ss. 718.112(2)(j) and 718.1255 and the rules adopted by the division. In addition, the department shall conduct mandatory binding arbitration of election disputes between a member and an association pursuant to s. 718.1255 and rules adopted by the division. Neither election disputes nor recall disputes are eligible for presuit mediation; these disputes shall be arbitrated by the department. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the department shall charge the parties a fee in an amount adequate to cover all costs and expenses incurred by the department in conducting the proceeding. Initially, the petitioner shall remit a filing fee of at least $200 to the department. The fees paid to the department shall become a recoverable cost in the arbitration proceeding, and the prevailing party in an arbitration proceeding shall recover its reasonable costs and attorney's fees in an amount found reasonable by the arbitrator. The department shall adopt rules to effectuate the purposes of this section.
(2)(a) Disputes between an association and a parcel owner regarding use of or changes to the parcel or the common areas and other covenant enforcement disputes, disputes regarding amendments to the association documents, disputes regarding meetings of the board and committees appointed by the board, membership meetings not including election meetings, and access to the official records of the association shall be the subject of a demand for presuit mediation served by an aggrieved party before the dispute is filed in court. Presuit mediation proceedings must be conducted in accordance with the applicable Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, and these proceedings are privileged and confidential to the same extent as court-ordered mediation. Disputes subject to presuit mediation under this section shall not include the collection of any assessment, fine, or other financial obligation, including attorney's fees and costs, claimed to be due or any action to enforce a prior mediation settlement agreement between the parties. Also, in any dispute subject to presuit mediation under this section where emergency relief is required, a motion for temporary injunctive relief may be filed with the court without first complying with the presuit mediation requirements of this section. After any issues regarding emergency or temporary relief are resolved, the court may either refer the parties to a mediation program administered by the courts or require mediation under this section. An arbitrator or judge may not consider any information or evidence arising from the presuit mediation proceeding except in a proceeding to impose sanctions for failure to attend a presuit mediation session or to enforce a mediated settlement agreement. Persons who are not parties to the dispute may not attend the presuit mediation conference without the consent of all parties, except for counsel for the parties and a corporate representative designated by the association. When mediation is attended by a quorum of the board, such mediation is not a board meeting for purposes of notice and participation set forth in s. 720.303..
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