Question: I live in a homeowners’ association community. Recently, one of our owners purchased the vacant lot next to their home. The owner has now combined the properties into one parcel with the taxing authorities and is now demanding that the association only charge them assessments for one lot, instead of two. Is this appropriate? (B.R by e-mail)
Answer: Probably not. Much of the answer will lie in the language in your governing documents and the version of the law which existed when they were initially recorded. Generally speaking, combining two lots into one property for property tax purposes, has nothing at all to do with the status of the lots under the governing documents of the association, including (but certainly not limited to) voting rights and assessment obligations.
Combining two lots into one lot for association purposes would be unusual, but not necessarily impossible (which is the case in the condominium context unless you have unanimous approval of all owners). First, you (or more accurately, your attorney) would have to review the applicable revisions of the governing documents. Section 720.306(1)(c) of the current version of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act generally prohibits amendments to the governing documents which change the percentage by which owners share in the common expenses of the association, unless approved by all owners. However, this is a fairly recent addition to the law and older homeowners’ associations may be subject to a different version of the statute. Also, even the current law allows the governing documents to distinguish between assessment obligations for lots based on the state of development.
However, the mere fact that an owner has combined two lots into one parcel for property tax purposes changes nothing, in and of itself. I suspect an amendment to your governing documents is required and the association’s counsel should be able to assist in stating how that could be done, or if there is any obligation to even attempt to do so.
Written by Joseph Adams and originally posted on Florida Condo HOA Law Blog.