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Florida lawns pose problem between homeowners and associations

Many homeowners take great pride in the condition of their lawn. In Florida, hot weather and little rain can make it challenging to grow grass. For some residents, a homeowners association regulates landscaping, which often includes specifying the type grass that may be planted. As a recent report illustrates, homeowners associations can easily get caught in a dispute over how Florida-friendly yards should be handled.

An article in the Tampa Bay Times notes that the Florida legislature passed a statute in 2000 that granted homeowners the ability to install landscaping that is low-maintenance, or needs little water. These types of yards typically include varieties of grass that clash with HOA requirements. However, the statute dictated that homeowners could move forward with this type of landscaping without having to answer to the associations that govern their property.

The law has resulted in serious disputes. One Land O’Lakes resident has been engaged in a six-year battle with his homeowners association, which has cost him a minimum of $15,000. He installed a Florida-friendly lawn, and the association called him on it. According to an adjunct professor who teaches homeowners association law at Florida State University, the law alone may not protect homeowners, as they should still operate within the association’s guidelines.

It takes both sides of the issue to have all the information before moving forward with either the project or a legal dispute. As the professor points out, it is wise for both the homeowner and the association to consult with an expert in order to avoid costly litigation. Any association members with questions regarding this matter should consult with an attorney.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Standing up for Florida-friendly lawns not easy when HOA says no,” Alex Harris, Aug. 2, 2015


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