720.3035  Architectural control covenants;

parcel owner improvements; rights and privileges.--

Effective July 1, 2007 the Florida legislature enacted a new section of FS 720 dealing with architectural rights and privileges of owners.  Hopefully, it will stop boards from passing unreasonable rules and architectural guidelines that reflect more the personal tastes of board members and/or committee members than the provisions of the original deed restrictions.  It's the intent of this provision to stop boards and committees from making up their own rules, thereby ignoring provisions that are part of the original deed restrictions.

It clearly explains the Extent of Authority of an association or any architectural committee as to the limit and/or the enforcement of the standards for external appearance, as authorized by the declaration of covenants. 

If the declaration of covenants provides options for the use of material, the size of the structure or improvement, the design of the structure or improvement, or the location of the structure or improvement on the parcel, an association can't restrict the right of a parcel owner to select from the options provided in the declaration of covenants.

If the declaration of covenants does not provide specific Setback Limitations, often a cause of heated debates ending in litigation, the applicable county or municipal setback limitations shall apply.

The requirements of this provision are based upon the original deed restrictions. 

A little hint:  Don't rely solely on any documents that are handed out by your board or management company. These documents may have been altered without the necessary consent of the ownership.  In order to make sure that your rights are fully protected, go to your local court house and get a copy of your original covenants -- just to make sure!

Even if this paragraph of the statutes provides for Recovery Of  Damages Caused By Infringement, it is still up to the homeowners to fight their battles in court!  This is as well a provision that requires the aggrieved party to pursue presuit mediation, according to FS 720.311(2)(a), which even increases the cost.

Even if this new section of the Homeowners' Act clarifies the rights of owners in regard to architectural guidelines and disallows enforcement that is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of a parcel owner set forth in the declaration of covenants, it is an issue that will be very expensive and time-consuming to litigate, since it's another provision that lacks easy enforcement.