Homeowners association cases fill court dockets - St. Petersburg Times: "Prolonged — and some might argue trivial — homeowners association spats fill Florida court dockets. Unassuming homeowners, who pay assessments to maintain their communities and enforce deed restrictions, are left to foot legal bills that can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
State Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, has tried for years to get both sides to consider swift and inexpensive resolutions rather than resorting to lawyers and costly court battles. His Home Court Advantage program would allow the HOA or the homeowner to file a dispute and settle the issue within 90 days through mediation. The cost: $300.
The measure passed the House and the Senate in 2008 before Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it. It passed the House again this year, but the legislative session ended before the Senate could follow suit.
Ambler plans to reintroduce the bill during the next legislative session. He said he keeps pushing the issue because more than 80 percent of Floridians live under HOAs."
80%? That's the highest percentage I have ever seen for any metro area, let alone an entire state. And if you read the first few graphs you will see how utterly out of control the situation is. Read the story of A. J. Vizzi, who just wanted to keep parking his pickup truck in the driveway, as he had for the preceding FOUR YEARS. And then the HOA went after him, and now, "Nearly eight years, two judges, five lawyers and more than $100,000 later, there's still no resolution."
These associations and their lawyers are wasting huge amounts of everybody's resources doing things like this. Who benefits? The association lawyers, I suppose. State legislators like Ambler want to push these disputes into mediation, which would make them less costly, but if it means the associations get to trample on owners less expensively, it is still not a good solution.