Category Archives: Laws & Your Rights

Florida Home Associations to Face More Scrutiny

Residents across the state have been complaining about their homeowner associations (aka gestapo run associations), and Senator Alan Hays has been paying attention! According to an article by Kimberly Miller in the Palm Beach Post, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said “he is sponsoring the bill (SB 1348), because his office receives numerous calls from homeowners with complaints about their association but with few places to turn for help. Hays also sponsored last year’s legislation that required the census.” Hays’ bill says it will ensure associations comply with federal and state laws and local ordinances as well as “conform to a system of checks and balances in order to prevent abuses by (governing boards).”

What this means to you, if you live in a community run by homeowner associations (more than 2.5 million Florida homes are in HOA managed communities), is that you will pay an annual fee of $4 should this bill pass. 

Currently the Department of Business and Professional Regulation handles the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes; thus the proposal seeks to rename the division. It’s purpose is to give the division the authority to investigate complaints and to push for compliance with respect to HOAs.

Needless to say, HOAs are up in arms, and are having their attorneys shoot off letters to Florida lawmakers opposing the fee and proposal. For more on this topic, be sure to read the original article in its entirety.

Personally, I think more regulation and transparency is absolutely warranted, and for those in the real estate industry, I urge you to pay close attention to this bill. I know I will!


The Difference Between Bankruptcy Chapters 7, 11, 12 & 13

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Thanks for stopping by my website. I suppose that if you’ve landed on my page, you’re probably contemplating bankruptcy or wondering what the difference between Chapters 7, 11, 12 and 13 is. Let me preface with this: I am NOT an attorney! I don’t warrant that the information I am writing about is accurate, nor should you use this information in lieu of legal advice. I am an agent that specializing in luxury pet-friendly real estate in South Florida. I try to keep abreast of as many financial aspects that affects my clients, friends, colleagues and family.

Today I met with a wonderful woman who was interested in listing her properties with me. Like so many, she has experienced financial hardships and has lost her business. With a warehouse, and several apartments under water, she is drowning in debt. I of course advised her to first consult with an attorney before she makes any decisions. However, I thought this may be a great blog topic to write about, in layman’s terms, of course.

[Please note: the information provided below is excerpted from Disclosure §527(a)(1) and §342(b), with some additions based on my experience]. Again, I am not an attorney, and don’t guarantee the accuracy of this information.

The following are the differences between Chapters 7, 11, 12 & 13:

  • Chapter 7 is the liquidation of all of the debtor’s no none-exempt assets in exchange for the forgiveness or discharge of certain kinds of unsecured debts such as credit cards, signature loans, medical debts, and auto repossession debts. From my understanding certain types of debts are not dischargeable such as guaranteed student loans, some taxes, obligations such as alimony, and child support, criminal restitution, fraud, and a few others (of course an attorney will be able to thoroughly advise you).
  • Chapter 11 is for business reorganizations.
  • Chapter 12 is for family farmers.
  • Chapter 13 is a method of repayment of debts whereby a payment plan is proposed and the debtor agrees to pay his projected disposal income for a period of 36 to 60 months, depending on whether the debtor  has current monthly income below or above the state median income. A debtor will be required to make monthly plan payments commencing 30 days after the commencement of the case and every 30 days thereafter for the term of the plan.

As a realtor, as much as we depend on listings to earn our living, I highly recommend for you to speak with an attorney before you list a property, or attempt to negotiate with the bank. I often meet real estate and bankruptcy attorneys in my line of work. There are a few that stand out to me. If you would like a recommendation, it will be my pleasure to provide you with some names and numbers. Just leave me a comment below or email me directly.


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8 Things You Should Know About Emotional Support Dogs in Florida

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First, let me preface by writing that I am so happy that pet lovers, those who are disabled and those who are in need of pet emotional support (and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll agree with me that we are ALL in need of some type of emotional support), have found a technical loophole of some sort!!! Let me correct that…. I am thrilled!!  I’ve been dealing with pet-friendly real estate in Miami and Broward since 2004, and am witness to a very slow progression of a change-in-attitude to no-pet policies. Personally, I don’t trust anyone that does not feel some sort of compassion for animals. That motto has never failed me.

I am in the process of writing an article for Yahoo! about this topic, so I decided to write a quick blog post today. So when is it OK to have pets in a no-pet-building in Florida? Let’s go over some pointers:

  1. An emotional support animal is defined as a pet that provides therapeutic benefits to its owner.
  2. No matter if your landlord or the condominium’s association has a no-pet policy, with proper documentation, you may absolutely have a the right to have a pet. Disabilities include emotional issues, and so emotional support pets are permitted as well.
  3. The Fair Housing Act requires that housing providers, such as condominiums and homeowner’s associations make reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities. This includes landlords as well. So if you’re a tenant, and you have developed an emotional disability of some sort, or if you are physically disabled, guess what? Your landlord is also required to make provisions with certain limited exceptions. Basically, what this means, is that the landlord and/or association is required by law to allow you to have an emotional support animal, even with a NO-PET POLICY!
  4. It is within your landlord and/or homeowner’s association’s right to ask for documentation to verify your need for an emotional support animal. Documentation includes: a note or certification from your physician or mental health professional.
  5. However, you are NOT REQUIRED to disclose the details of the disability or provide proof of your pet’s training or certification!!!! 
  6. If you are deemed to be in need of an emotional support dog, the landlord or association is NOT PERMITTED to charge an additional pet deposit, BUT, they may hold you responsible if your pet caused any damage. My advice is, (1) take pictures while living in the property and as you’re moving out, or of an unforseen accident or occurrence that may be your pet’s fault, you want to make sure that your landlord or association does not make more out of it than it is, (2) document any repairs needed to be done before you move into a property, and (3) always correspond via email, or in writing, verbal will not hold in court or help you end a dispute favorably!
  7. In rare occasions, landlords and/or associations may assert their rights to request your pet’s removal or to evict you, if let’s say you can’t keep your pet under control or your pet poses a danger to others. This is total BS, and I would not worry about this if I were you. Why? Because most landlords and associations risk you filing discrimination lawsuits against them. I’d advise them to consult with an attorney before trying to pull off an erroneous move such as this.
  8. If you believe that you’ve been wrongfully denied housing or rights under the Fair Housing Act, you should file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD regional office for Florida is located in Atlanta, GA. Their phone number is: 800-440-8091.

Here’s a guide to the U.S. Department’s Disability of Rights Laws. If you have any tips or additional laws that you know about, please share them below in the comment section. If you live in Florida, and are having any kind of trouble with your landlord or association, I highly recommend that you contact Attorney Marcy LaHart. She is probably the most qualified (in my opinion) attorney who specialized in animal law in Florida. She has a stellar reputation. She was instrumental several years ago in helping me with a case I was working on. If anyone can help, or guide you in the right direction, it’s Atty LaHart.

Join my Facebook page for more updates, and perhaps to help me bring more attention to this antiquated policy. I hope that collectively we can encourage homeowner’s associations to ease up on no-pet policies.