Writing the Rules Understanding How, When & How Much

 Nothing stays the same forever. As community standards, attitudes and  populations shift and evolve, rules and regulations that once made sense or  that reflected the views and standards of their day can become antiquated,  irrelevant, or just plain silly. Those changes often necessitate the amendment  of existing ones—or the drafting of new ones—to fit the new paradigm.  

 “Criteria that a board should use when considering a new rule include its  fairness to the entire membership, its enforceability, and its ability to serve  a purpose that will better the community,” says Judi Allen, district manager at KW Property Management & Consulting in Clearwater.  

 Since the oldest community associations in Florida were created in the late 1950’s, you won’t find archaic rules that you might see in other states (such as not allowing  residents to tether their horse carriages to the railing out front in certain  New York City co-ops, for example), but that doesn’t mean that all rules are completely up to date.  

 There are plenty of associations that have now-defunct satellite dish  restrictions and age restrictions on their books that are no longer enforceable  and should be removed to avoid both confusion and claims of discrimination or  illegality.  

 “The first thing a community has to consider is whether the restriction legally  has to be in the declaration to be enforceable and that’s fairly complicated,” says Kenneth Direktor, an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff in West Palm Beach. “A declaration by condominiums and HOAs is not required to be 'reasonable'—they simply can’t be contrary to the law. Rules and regulations have to be reasonable.”  

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