Can My HOA Prevent Me From Working From Home?
The strong majority of Florida homeowners’ associations (HOAs) prevent homeowners from engaging in any kind of commercial or ‘non-residential’ activity out of their home. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who might otherwise do their work in offices have found themselves stuck at home telecommuting. With the existing prohibitions in place, however, some are understandably wary that to work from home is a breach of their covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). Depending on your situation, it may be best to consult an experienced attorney as to your options.
Regulations Are Too Broad
The original intent of most restrictions placed on commercial activity in one’s home was to limit in-person inconveniences to the other members of the HOA, such as clogged parking and noise violations. Operating a business such as a daycare out of one’s home has a high likelihood of creating serious inconvenience to the other members of your HOA. Short-term rentals of one’s home are another common issue that HOAs may face, as they are fairly common due to their low-profile nature. A business of this nature is very likely to breach the HOA’s CC&Rs, as it may qualify as a nuisance – generally, HOA members have a general duty not to “interfere with” others’ enjoyment of their property.
However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were being granted the right to work at home, engaging in work like writing, attending meetings, and contacting potential clients, depending on one’s profession. This type of ‘commercial activity’ is much more subtle and quiet, with no real inconvenience to the homeowner’s neighbors or to the board itself. And yet, most HOAs’ prohibitions on working from home would still bar this kind of ‘non-residential’ activity, due to their broadly worded nature.
Some HOAs Are Lenient
The reality of anti-commercial-activity provisions in many HOAs’ governing documents aside, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has all but forced HOAs to adapt. A recent survey from the Community Associations Institute estimates that roughly two-thirds of respondents have noticed an increase in home-based commercial activity in their associations during the pandemic – but 73 percent of the same respondents reported that associations are being much more lenient about those businesses’ existence. In most situations, those working from home or operating their businesses out of their home have very little choice in the matter, especially if they are not essential personnel, and HOAs appear to have absorbed this new reality, for the most part.
Generally, the businesses that are being allowed to ‘slide’ by HOAs are those that can be conducted discreetly, with no inconvenience posed to the other members of the association. Some HOAs have blanket provisions barring any kind of commercial activity, while others may specify certain “permissible” businesses that will be allowed. If you run into trouble, arguing your case with the board is the best option – but during the pandemic, few HOAs appear willing to try and pick this particular kind of fight.
Contact A Tampa HOA Attorney
In ‘normal’ days, businesses being operated out of one’s home would be strictly regulated by their HOA, so as to preserve the peace and convenience of the community – but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. If you have questions or concerns about working from home, contacting a Tampa HOA & condo association attorney from the Seward Law Office may be the first step toward getting them managed. Contact us today via our website, or by telephone at 813-252-6789, to schedule a consultation.