Landlord vs. Tenant vs. HOA in Florida

T.L. from West Palm Beach, FL writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in West Palm Beach, Florida. Can the HOA make me move if I have lived on property for 6 months? The realtor moved me into this unit in March, 2012 and told me I didn’t need to apply to the HOA. Later, one of the board members asked me to apply and told me I would definitely be approved even with bad credit. So I applied in June in September they are saying I didn’t get approved because I turned in my application after I moved in. Yet they knew I was already living here. They are stating a bunch of lies like I have a dog (which I don’t) and that my daughter was fishing in the lake (even though everyone in here does the same). I received a letter from my landlord asking me to move out in 5 days. This is not an eviction just a letter. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

T.L., so sorry to learn of your troubles! As you know, I am not an attorney so I reached out to a friend with some expertise in Florida condominium law to lend a hand with this question. Fortunately for you, I know one of the best! I asked Attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger, one of the founding partners of the prestigious firm of Becker & Poliakoff, Inc.. Here’s what she had to say:

“The first issue for the letter writer is the fact that he or she relied upon statements made by the realtor. The realtor may or may not have a grasp of what the association’s governing documents say but to be absolutely accurate, T.L. needed to read same before moving in and discuss the association’s rules and regulations with his or her landlord.

It is possible that the association documents do give the association the right to pursue tenants who move in without being properly approved first and it is possible they do not. The tenant in this situation should be working with the landlord to determine if there are grounds for eviction or not. The landlord may be getting pressure from the association and may not be in agreement with the eviction but going along to prevent problems. The fight the tenant has on his or her hands is with the landlord and not with the association. The tenant has no standing to challenge the association but the landlord does; the tenant does have standing to bring a potential breach of lease agreement against the landlord. It would be advisable for the tenant to meet with an attorney to review the lease and the association’s governing documents.”

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