It seems somebody is really eager to see expired deed restrictions revitalized. In 2004 somebody sneaked FS 720.403-720.407 into the HOA Task Force bill at the last minute, allowing formerly mandatory homeowners' associations to revitalize their deed restrictions. Amazingly enough, revitalization in that form was never discussed during the actual HOA Task Force meetings. Guess why?

Now the legislature in its so-called wisdom created Florida Statute 712.11, allowing formerly voluntary associations to revitalize their expired deed restrictions. In my opinion it's a clear violation of private property rights. People who bought homes in older communities with expired deed restrictions suddenly face the fact that some power-hungry neighbors try to recreate restrictions that had been expired long before they purchased their properties. Isn't it funny that owners are always told they signed contracts and have to obey them, but when it's convenient for the service providers laws are created that overthrow existing rights? Owners who had sold their homes in mandatory associations because of dictatorial conditions suddenly find themselves in a new association in the midst of more fights about association problems. I guess one day somebody will stand up and fight these laws that defy any private property rights that are the foundation of our nation.

If you live in a neighborhood where some neighbors try to revive a long-dead association, make sure that they follow the rules exactly. Any revitalized deed restrictions can't be more restrictive than the ones that expired. A voluntary association stays a voluntary association; you don't have to participate. Don't forget, being part of an association creates extra liability, especially if you have a power-hungry board that is sue-happy, pushed by some of the infamous attorneys who like to "create" lawsuits. You can't be forced to pay dues; there is no fining, lien and/or foreclosure power. These are communities living by intimidation! Please don't believe the fairy tale of “improved property values.” You can be sure that nobody wants to buy a home in a community riddled with lawsuits!  When you need enforcement in your neighborhood, call Code Enforcement. It's free and doesn't create legal bills for your neighborhood. And since you already pay high property taxes, let the counties/cities work for their money.

As soon as you hear neighbors filing for revitalization of deed restrictions, contact the Department of Community Affairs, responsible for supervising the revitalization process. Make sure that only the old deed restrictions are revitalized, nothing added or made up. 

You might want to visit the website of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which provides information about the covenant revitalization process and a link by which you can contact the Department if you have questions or concerns. Make sure that everything is done according to the law. We have seen many filings where boards tried to cheat and add some extra restrictions.

If the revitalization process goes to court, make sure that you name each of the directors personally in the lawsuit. Remember that they are the ones personally responsible for your problems! Don't let them intimidate you: Intimidation is their biggest weapon. If you want to be left alone -- make sure you let them know!

Most of the folks that try to revitalize deed restrictions have dreams of creating their own private empire that will allow them to tell neighbors what to do and to pursue their own private agendas. You surely don't want to be part of it!