HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUR TENANT – YIKES!

In another article we talked about what we should do if our neighbor calls with complaints about your tenant.  But what happens if those same complaints come from the homeowner’s association?

For starters, DON’T PANIC when you receive that letter or phone call.  HOA’s can be very intimidating to owners as well as many property managers.  I’m not going to make many friends with my next statement, but those owners and agents that have managed rental properties in associations know what I’m about to say as true.  Some association board members are simply bullies to some tenants and some owners too.  As mentioned in another article, there are some property managers that shouldn’t be property managers, as well there are some board members that shouldn’t be board members, and there are many other professions that fit here as too.

In the prior article, the complaints about the tenants were: 1) too many cars, 2) too many people living there, and 3) the police were called for a loud party.

The steps resolving these matters are the same as they are in the ‘Neighbor Complaint’ article.  Let’s say the outcome is the same after the post-7 Day Notice inspection, and all was corrected by the tenant.  There is no evidence of additional people living there, but the association calls/sends more letters that there are too many people in the property.  If you have proof that there does not appear to be too many people, you can ask for the association to send you photos of what they are seeing as you are not seeing it when you have been by and in the property.

If their complaints are something you are not aware of, ask for a copy of the current bylaws the complaint is violating.  You can always, and it’s highly suggested, send them copies of any 7 Day Notices or correspondence sent to the tenant regarding the complaint.  You want your file to reflect that you have or are attempting to resolve the matter.

I managed a condo and it was occupied. The occupant was a single person.  The association president calls me and says he needs a key to that unit, as per the bylaws, so he could inspect the unit as he deemed necessary.  Needless to say, his statement caused red flags to fly in my head because the Florida Landlord Tenant Law does not allow a landlord or agent to ‘inspect as we deem necessary’.  Depending on the landlord/agent’s definition of necessary, that could be considered harassment to the tenant.  Instead of voicing my concerns with the association president and getting into an argument with him, I simply asked for a copy of the bylaws addressing this matter for further clarification, as I was not aware of this requirement.  When I eventually received them and read them, I discovered the bylaws did not state a key copy was required to be kept with the association.  It stated (paraphrasing) that any keys held by the association are kept in a secure location.  I sent it over to my attorney asking for his input on the matter.  His response was that according to how the bylaws read, we were not required to supply a key to the association.  I communicated this to the association president and never heard another word about it.

The moral of the story……don’t panic!  Ask for a copy of the claimed bylaw violation.  What you don’t know could hurt you.

Even if the person with the association is bullying you, you still have to abide by the Florida Landlord Tenant Law regarding the tenant.  I have had many conversations over the years with the association that I can’t evict a tenant based on what they are claiming.  That I needed photos, police reports (police were called but no report was filed), and any other documentation that I was not able to get.  You may have situations where you need to contact your Florida Real Estate attorney for guidance. 

In summary, the association can assess daily fines, and they have an attorney on hand to make your life harder, so make sure you don’t ignore the complaints regardless to how tedious they may seem to you.  And always correspond in writing even if it is a ‘Recap’ email of you phone conversation so you have records of what transpired.

Much luck & Happy Landlord-ing!