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By: Roberto Vazquez

Florida-friendly Landscaping & the not so Friendly Homeowners’ Association

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Florida-friendly landscaping and the Unfriendly Homeowner’s Association

 The Florida legislature passed a law in the early 2000s and in 2009 with the goal of encouraging homeowners and community associations to cultivate landscapes that don’t require pampering with sprinklers and chemicals. These lawns are referred to as “Florida-friendly” lawns or landscaping.

Florida-friendly landscaping is defined by Florida law as: quality landscapes that conserve water, protect the environment, are adaptable to local conditions, and are drought tolerant. The principles of such landscaping include planting the right plants in the right place, efficient watering, appropriate fertilization, mulching, attraction of wildlife, responsible management of yard pests, recycling yard waste, reduction of storm-water runoff, and waterfront protection. Additional components include practices such as landscape planning and design, soil analysis, the appropriate use of solid waste compost, minimizing the use of irrigation, and proper maintenance.

St. Augustine grass is usually the grass of choice for most homeowners associations and is usually a requirement. As most homeowners are aware of, St. Augustine grass is very hard to maintain and it requires a lot of watering. Many homeowners will or have received notices from their association that they need to maintain their repair the condition of their St. Augustine grass or they will be fined by the association. If those fines are not paid, the association can foreclosure on the home and have it sold at a public auction. Because of this, many homeowners are deciding to remove the St. Augustine grass and replace it with Florida-friendly landscaping. The problem is that many associations require that each home have St. Augustine grass only. Florida lawmakers understand that and have provided some helpful language in these Florida-friendly laws such as, “deed restriction or covenant may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping on his or her land.”     

So it seems clear. Even if the association prohibits anything other than a St. Augustine lawn, they cannot enforce that restriction. Some associations are either ignorant about the law or are happy to disregard it. Homeowners’ associations throughout Florida are still filing lawsuits asking the courts to force homeowners to remove the Florida-friendly landscaping and replace it with St. Augustine grass. I am involved in litigation right now of this very issue. I represent a homeowner being sued by the association over the homeowner’s installation of Florida-friendly landscaping. This is not the only case though. There are other homeowners in Florida who are also being sued by their association on this same issue. The Orlando Sentinel has pickup on this problem and has published an article regarding litigation between a Florida homeowner and their association: Click Here

 If you are having problems with your homeowner’s association because of your choice of landscaping, we can help. At the Morey Law Firm, P.A., we can help you determine your legal rights and defend you in a lawsuit if necessary. If you live in Orlando or the surrounding area, call us today to set up your consultation!