Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Case of the Water-Saving Plants

Last week marked the 3rd annual Florida-FriendlyLandscaping (FFL) in the Planned Community information session organized by Claire Lewis, UF/IFAS FFL Statewide Coordinator. 

The Issue
UF/IFAS research has well established that homeowner association (HOA)-controlled communities often face internal obstacles when it comes to implementing resource-efficient practices. HOAs encouraging excessive watering for perfect lawns is one thing, but bringing landscaping disputes to court is quite another. Believe it or not this happens rather often around Florida and this FFL event was aimed at bringing together stakeholders to review case studies and consider alternatives to costly court proceedings when choosing to make your yard Florida-friendly.

Experts Afoot
“Make sure that you’ve gone through the covenants and restrictions of your community so you know what they expect,” said real estate broker Jeannette Moore. 

Jeannette Moore presents on homeowner vs. HOA case studies 
Ms. Moore reviewed several case studies during the event to offer insight into what exactly happens when homeowners take on HOAs. Ms. Moore also maintains a popular FFL-oriented Facebook page.

"Most associations are smart enough to realize this isn't a good case to litigate."
- Barbara Stage, ESQ.
Orlando-based attorney Barbara Stage also attended. Ms. Stage underscored how litigation should be the last resort in FFL disputes, as cases can drag on for years and costs can be exorbitant.

The 9 Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles

The Takeaway 
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Statute prohibits HOAs and local governments from outlawing FFL. But apparently, statute language on what is FFL and who designates plant life as FFL is not as clear as it could be. In short, be informed before making FFL-oriented landscaping alterations in your HOA-controlled community.