3 Tips to Live Harmoniously in Association Living
My name is Amanda Noelle Laber, and I am an associate attorney at PeytonBolin, PL. I grew up with two younger brothers, living in a community with a homeowner's association, which makes me well-qualified to provide 3 ideas on this topic: how to live harmoniously with others.
- Learn the rules. Just like a family has its rules, so does an association. Review your Declaration and any other association documents so that you understand (1) what your obligations are to the association and (2) what the association's obligations are to you. Are you required to maintain your yard? What about your sidewalk? If you are walking your pet outside, do you need to use a leash? In my time at the firm, I have seen many complaints that could have been avoided had the owner just known the rules of the association. Also consider the association's obligations to the owners. Does the Association need to keep the pool clean? Yes, if the pool is a common element. Can you stop paying your monthly assessments if the pool is green and toxic? No, an owner cannot withhold assessments, but there are other options available so that you can be swimming again soon.
2. Treat everyone with respect. The golden rule in many families is to treat others the way that you would want to be treated. Admittedly, this may be very difficult at times. When you are living with someone, frustrations can run deep, issues can build upon each other, and tempers can flare (especially in the summer, when many people are out and about and interacting more with each other). Disagreements are natural, especially in associations, whether they are between the board of directors and an owner, or between two or more owners themselves. However, problems can be resolved much more quickly and more easily if everyone treats each other with respect. Disagreements exist, but consider the way that you are approaching the disagreement: are you yelling, or calling names? These techniques are not going to resolve the problem. Instead, try listening to the board member or the owner explain his or her side of the argument, and then calmly and logically explain yours. You might just be able to come to an agreement without having to get lawyers like me involved.
3. Take advantage of association living. This requires some perspective. One of my brothers called me last week to say that he wished I still lived nearby, so we could hang out. I cannot imagine him saying anything remotely similar five years ago; we were family, not friends. Sometimes, owners view association living as a burden. There are some challenges, like having to get exterior paint colors approved, or having to make sure your lawn is properly maintained to the association's standards. However, there are some great benefits to association living, such as enhanced property value, and feelings of community and camaraderie. Get involved in your association; even if you do not volunteer for a board position, you can still attend meetings and have a voice.
By understanding the rules of the association, treating your fellow owners with respect, and getting involved in your association, you can improve your community, and enhance your quality of life.Amanda was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (making her an automatic Steelers fan for life), and grew up in Oviedo, Florida. Amanda graduated magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, where she was a staff editor on the St. Thomas Law Review, and served two years as an instructor for first year Torts students. During her third year of law school, Amanda interned with the Honorable Marcia G. Cooke of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Amanda joined PeytonBolin, PL, in 2013, where she focuses on general counsel and collections matters. She is also working currently with the ABA National Taskforce on Stand Your Ground Laws as a project assistant. Amanda is a member of the Florida Bar and the Southern District of Florida Bar.