A homeowners’ association (HOA) is a not-for-profit corporation that serves as the governing body of a residential community, such as a townhome or single-family development.
HOAs are typically formed by the community developer. Initially the developer (often called the “declarant”) operates the HOA, assuming financial responsibility and retaining voting and governance rights. The responsibility to operate and manage the HOA is transferred to homeowners at turnover, which typically occurs after selling a specified number of homes.
HOAs are created to operate and maintain community common property, deliver community services and protect the community’s property values by enforcing the community’s governing documents. The HOA will contract with vendors to ensure that the common grounds are maintained, purchase insurance to cover liability risks and damage to HOA property, maintain procedures for inspecting member properties and enforcing the restrictions set out in the governing documents, prepare an annual budget, collect assessments to pay HOA expenses, ensure community infrastructure such as storm water detention areas and storm sewers are operational and property maintained, and a multitude of other responsibilities necessary to promote the health, safety and welfare of the community residents.
You automatically become a member of the HOA at the time you purchase your home. Once you buy a home in a community with a HOA, your membership in the association is mandatory.
The HOA is run by a Board of Directors. An HOA’s Board of Directors is comprised of homeowners who have volunteered to stand for election to leadership or member roles. They can also be individuals appointed by the developer to manage the community while it is under developer control and to facilitate turnover as the community approaches completion. The Board is comprised of officers, who typically include an elected president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary, as well as non-officer Board members. Board officers and members serve the community by making and enforcing the association’s governing documents, collecting dues and ensuring its facilities and common areas are well managed, maintained and attractive. Often, the Board will delegate some of its responsibilities by establishing committees. Committees can be delegated the responsibility for architectural control, reviewing violations and fines, preparing newsletters, and more.
The best way to communicate with the Board of Directors is to attend a meeting. Owners are given an opportunity at each meeting to address the Board. For the date of the next meeting, check the events calendar in the community portal. You can sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page.
Your HOA membership entitles you to voting rights, which give you a voice in electing Directors and in setting the rules, policies and regulations that affect your community. You have a right to enforce the deed restrictions that encumber your community. You also have an obligation to comply with those restrictions and failure to do so may result in fines or other penalties. All association members are required to share the costs of operating and maintaining your community’s common areas, equipment and amenities. These services are paid for by HOA assessments or fees, which each unit owner is required to pay.
The property owner with legal title to a parcel of property (lot) and verified as an association member in good standing is entitled to vote at the annual meeting of the membership. Typically, each lot gets one vote. Where a home is owned by more than one person, they must agree on the how the vote will be cast. Some communities require a voting certificate which indicates which of the multiple owners is authorized to cast the vote. You will lose your right to vote if you fail to pay your assessments.
HOAs are subject to state statutes governing homeowners’ associations and not-for-profit corporations. These are in Chapter 720 and Chapter 617 of the Florida Statues. In addition, each HOA must comply and carry out its obligations as set forth in its governing documents.
Common area means all real property within a community which is owned or leased by an association or dedicated for use or maintenance by the association or its members.
Prudent risk management requires adequate insurance coverage for all association property, general liability, and directors and officer’s protection. The association is required to maintain, under the Florida Statutes, insurance or a fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance or fidelity bond must be in an amount that will cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. The requirement for a fidelity bond or insurance can be waived by members holding a majority of the voting interests in the association.
Your Association Manager
The association’s management company is TERRA MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC, a community association management firm licensed pursuant to Chapter 468 of Florida Statutes. More information about Terra can be found on their website.
Yes. Terra staff members work in teams to manage their communities. Each team consists of a licensed community association manager, a community administrator and an accountant. The name of your manager is listed on the “Contact Us” page.
The association manager assists the Board of Directors in operating the community. The manager’s job responsibilities may involve accounting, budgeting, collections and financial control; community operations; facility maintenance; enforcement of restrictions contained within the governing documents; and assisting the Board to govern in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the association and applicable Florida law.
The association manager is responsible for receipt and response of association inquiries and service requests. However, the association manager does not have the authority to address all concerns. Requests outside the manager’s authority and which require attention of the Board of Directors will be referred to them for consideration. You can contact your community manager by completing the form of the “Contact Us” page of this website, by calling Terra Management Services at (813)374-2363, or by a message sent through the community portal. Residents can sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register.
Owners should sign in to the community portal to update their mailing address and contact information. Sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register.
Every owner has an account ledger which provides a historical listing of their assessments, charges and payments. To view their ledger, Owners should sign in to the community portal. Sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register.
The manager will assist on matters that are being experienced community wide, owner violations, damage to the common area, or which are the HOA’s responsibility under the governing documents. Not all problems you may experience are matters that the manager will handle. For issues with trash pick-up, light poles, water and other utilities, you should contact the service provider. For issues with violation of county ordinances, you should contact your local code enforcement office. Issues outside the manager’s scope of authority will have to be referred the Board of Directors.
There are many ways communicate with your community’s assigned manager. The simplest way to communicate directly with the community manager is by competing the form on the “Contact Us” page. Messages go directly to the community managers inbox. You can also message your manager through the community portal. Sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register. You can also call the Terra Management office at (813) 374-2363 to speak with your assigned community administrator. Calls may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.
Budgeting & Assessments
Assessments are fees that are imposed upon on individual lots by the HOA in accordance with the governing documents. If not paid by the homeowner, the assessment can result in a lien against the lot.
The amount of individual assessment fees is based on an annual budget approved by the Board of Directors. The Boards goal in establishing a budget is to cover the association’s operating expenses, including reserves necessary for future replacement of capital items at the end of their useful life. The Board may also include amounts for contingencies to ensure a sound and prudent financial condition for the association. The budget is adopted at a meeting at which membership may comment. The specific assessment that you will pay is derived form a formula set forth in the association’s Governing Documents. Most often the assessment is equal for all units, but it could also be based on lot or unit size or some other formula.
Yes, the Board of Directors will determine if an increase in the assessment will be necessary to accommodate a balanced budget. Depending upon the amount of the proposed increase, it may be necessary to seek membership approval.
An association’s budget may include an amount for reserves. Reserves are amounts allocated to specific expenses, such as the cost to replace capital items or to plan for long-term maintenance and emergencies. The reserve amount included in the annual budget is generally based on the life expectancy of the item and its replacement or maintenance cost. Reserve amounts for emergencies like storm damage, liability lawsuits, or accidents causing property damage are often based on assumptions made after a comprehensive review of the possible consequences of the emergency. Because of the difficulty is setting reserve amounts, the association will often employ the services of a professional reserve analyst to provide a study of the association’s needs and to recommend the amount to budget for reserves.
Association assessment fees (dues) are billed by coupon or statement, depending on the frequency of the payments and established method approved by the Board of Directors. Payment may be made by check payable to the association, by electronic bank account debit (ACH), credit card, or e-check. You may pay by credit card or e-check through the Frontsteps mobile app. You may also establish ACH payments, or pay by credit card or e-check, by going here. Depending on the community, assessments may be paid to the association monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annually or annually.
• Interest – Interest is added to unpaid balance for accounts, monthly, per the terms of either the association’s governing documents or the state statues. The interest listed on your account or statement is the amount due to the association for the unpaid balance.
• Postage – Each association has the right to pass on the cost of postage and other monetary costs to owners in the enforcement of the governing documents. For example, if you have received a certified letter for a violation, the cost of the postage is applied to your account for payment.
• Late Fees – Late fees are charges, separate of interest charges, for failure to pay your assessment on time. The late fee listed on your account or statement is the amount due to the association for the unpaid balance.
• Collection Costs – Each association has the right to pass on the cost of collections, attorney’s fees and other costs to owners for failure to pay their assessment.
• Fines – Owners that fail to remedy a violation in a specified time period may be fined by the Association. The process for fining an owner is handled in accordance with the state statues and the policies of the association.
There are instances where owners remit their late assessment payment only, failing to pay the additional charges to their account. Owners should be advised that payments are applied as dictated by the state statues. Payments are applied against these collection fees first and the result is that the assessment remains unpaid. Owners with unpaid assessments can be turned over to a collection attorney. It is important for owners to keep their accounts up to date in order to potentially avoid any undesired collection costs being added to their accounts.
Once an account has been turned over to the Association’s attorney for collection, Terra Management Services staff cannot assist you with payments for your account. The association may also choose to suspend your rights to use the common elements or vote for failure to pay the association dues. It is important for owners to keep their accounts up to date to potentially avoid any undesired collection costs being added to their accounts by attorneys and debit collectors.
A homeowner has the obligation to pay assessments on time and the Board has an obligation to collect fees as set forth in the community governing documents. Unless there is some irregularity in the assessment or billing process, or you are contesting the validity of the underlying fee itself, the Board should not waive late fees and interest. That being said, a homeowner who desires to dispute a late fee or interest can bring their dispute to the Board for review. The Board will determine if those charges should be waived based on the surrounding circumstances.
Architectural Approval / Exterior Modifications
To preserve the aesthetic quality of a community, prior approval of any exterior alteration, modification, or addition to individual property is required. You can submit and architectural modification or property improvement request through the community portal. Terra Portal. Sign in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-in” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register.
Each association has a timetable for allow committee or board members to review Architectural modification requests. Typically, governing documents allow 30-45 days for review. Please review your association’s policies and submit an application form before engaging in any projects to modify the exterior of your property.
The authority to review and approve modification is generally delegated to an Architectural Review Committee in accordance with governing documents.
Sales, Rentals & Leasing
Terra Management Services does not have or offer a list of rentals available in our communities.
If you have questions regarding use of the common elements, gates and more, please contact your landlord or the rental property’s property manager. The homeowner or their legally designated representative are the only ones that can assist you with these requests.
Association accounts are owner and property specific. If an owner chooses to provide a property manager with access to their account, that is decided and communicated by the owner to their manager. Terra Management Services will not provide information to property managers without having a written authorization from the homeowner.
Homeowners can provide the bulk of the information that realtors need regarding the association. You can order copies of the governing documents, answers to lender questionnaires, estoppels and more by going to the “Estoppels” page on this website. Owners may obtain copies of governing documents from the community portal, download the information at no charge, and then provide it to their realtor.
Terra Management Services does not have or offer a list of foreclosures available for sale in our communities. Often, foreclosures are available via public sale by the clerk of courts.
erra Management Services is pleased to partner with HomeWiseDocs.com, the next generation in document and data delivery for community associations. HomeWiseDocs.com provides reliable, around-the-clock online access to all governing documents and critical project data for lenders, closing agents, real estate agents and homeowners from Terra Management’s managed communities.
Log on to the HomeWiseDocs website and select the Sign-Up link to register. The many system enhancements geared toward an improved user experience include:
• Order by address or association name searches
• Share your order with up to five email addresses
• Hard copy delivery options available
• Email and SMS text completion notices for users
• Rush order requests
• Track your orders online with order confirmation number
Governing Documents & Deed Restrictions
Deed restrictions are provision placed in a deed or other recorded document that restricts, limits or regulates the use of the property in some manner. Deed restrictions are most often contained within a document called a Declaration that was prepared by the community developer.
Each community association is governed by its own unique set of rules and policies. These rules and policies are contained within the community’s Governing Documents which consist of the recorded Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (often referred to as the CC&Rs), the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the HOA, and the Rules and Regulations, as well as any exhibits, amendments and supplements to those documents. The Governing Documents clearly define the behavior and actions homeowners can and cannot take regarding their homes and communities. These rules and policies are designed to protect property values by keeping the community clean, safe and beautiful, and ensuring a harmonious living environment for all residents. The Governing Documents regulate architectural guidelines, pets, parking, noise, amenity usage, rentals, fee schedules, non-compliance fines and much more.
The community Governing Documents are basically a contract. By buying a home within a deed restricted community, you have agreed to comply with the Governing Documents and are obligated to obey them. An informed homebuyer will be sure to fully understand the Governing Documents before buying a home in the community. While the rules may keep you from taking certain liberties pertaining to your home or community, they also prevent your neighbors from performing nuisance or disruptive actions or behavior as well.
Typically, the Governing Documents are given priority in the following order: Declaration, Articles, Bylaws, and Rules & Regulations.
Associations are often given the authority to adopt Rules and Regulations to be applied in operation of their community. The Rules and Regulations must be consistent with the Declaration. They often are more specific. For instance, the Declaration may contain a provision that says that the Association must approve the location, size and color of all pool cages before they are installed. The Rules and Regulations may specify that pool cages can’t be more than 500 square feet or may not come closer than 25 feet to a property lines, or that the pool cage must be white (these are merely examples and not your community’s requirements). Your association’s rules and regulations are created to protect your community’s property values, enhance its aesthetics and lifestyle and promote a friendly, agreeable and desirable environment for residents.
The Governing Documents are enforced under the authority of the Board of Directors and the Board has an obligation to enforce them. Enforcement should not be selective. The Board must enforce the documents equally against all owners in a similar situation, and they should not be selective in the parts of the Governing Documents they enforce. Often a community association management company is hired by the association to assist the Board in enforcement of the Governing Documents and management of the community facilities. Homeowners are required to follow the rules and policies set forth in the Governing Documents, even if they do not agree with them. Non-compliance could possibly result in fines or legal action.
At the time you purchased your home, a copy of the governing documents should have been passed down to you from the prior owner or the closing agent. Copies of governing documents are provided along with closing documents when purchase transaction is completed. You may also obtain additional or replacement copies by signing in to the community portal. You can sing in to the community portal by clicking the “Resident Sign-In” button at the top of this page. First time users will need their account number and email address to register. Realtors or title agents desiring copies of the governing documents should go to HomeWiseDocs.com.