News & Media
Woman wearing mask in office looking at paperwork
FUNFUNPHOTO / Getty Images

RE Q&A: Can HOA Fine Me for Removing ‘Wear Your Mask’ Signs?

A condo owner removed signs that said “Wear Your Mask” from the building’s main doors, and the president now accuses him of vandalism. Can he be fined for this?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: My condo association is fining me for flier removal and vandalism. They are accusing me of removing “Wear Your Mask” signs from our building’s main doors.

I looked through our condo rules and documents and found nothing about flier removal. The condo president wants to make up some rules under his “emergency powers.” Can I be fined for this? – Dennis

Answer: To start with, you cannot remove signs or notices put up by your association leadership. Period.

If you disagree with how your board of directors is doing their job, you can run for the board at the next election or file a lawsuit, in extreme situations.

While it is understandable that you are upset because you feel your association is overstepping their authority, you are doing the same thing when you take the law into your own hands.

To put it differently, you cannot try to correct their wrongful actions with your own.

Your association can fine you for violations of the rules governing your community if they follow the proper procedure. Your association must appoint a fining committee of people not on or related to those on the board for a fine to be enforceable. These people will give accused residents notice of a committee meeting where the violations will be reviewed.

You may show up and argue your case, but, like any other hearing, the ultimate decision rests with the committee.

If the committee decides against you, it will levy a fine. If you do not pay this fine, you can lose certain privileges in your community. Your association can also enforce the fine in court and get a judgment against you.

If your association correctly followed the procedures, it would be difficult to convince a judge that the penalty was wrong. To make matters worse, you may need to reimburse the association for their legal costs.

Generally, though, these fines do not give your association lien rights to foreclose on your home.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

© 2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.