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Ocean Hammock POA Short-term Vacation Rental Lawsuit Decision

This lawsuit challenged the voting process used by the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association to amend their Master Declaration to limit mini-hotels and short-term rentals in Ocean Hammock.

By Toby Tobin

Palm Coast, FL – April 9, 2015 – In the case of Voss vs. OHPOA, Florida Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Orfinger determined Monday that the OHPOA’s interpretation of voting requirements to amend their Master Declaration was proper. The POA’s amendments were aimed toward eliminating and/or restricting short-term vacation rentals within the Ocean Hammock community.

Specifically, the amendments limited the number of bedrooms allowed in homes built in Ocean Hammock after the amendment. It also eliminated or restricted short-term rentals and restricted the number of overnight guests.

Plaintiffs Mark and Brenda Voss, who own 22 Ocean Ridge Blvd. South, alleged in the Complaint that Association Documents required a 2/3 majority of ALL Members of the Association. The POA has moved forward on the amendments based on the POA's interpretation of the voting procedure which required only a 2/3 vote of those Members present in person or by proxy. The amendment vote satisfied the POA’s threshhold but failed to meet the higher treshhold requirement of Voss’s interpretation.

The ruling validated the POA’s voting process but failed to address the validity of the amendments themselves. The amendments offer only a three-year grandfathering provision for existing structures that entered the short-term vacation rental business prior to the amendments (when there were no restrictions). Under the Florida Statute governing Condominium Associations, an amendment to change the rental policy can only be enforced against new owners, not the owners of record when the amendment is passed. This restriction apparently is absent from the Stature governing Home Owners Association.

Plaintiffs have yet to receive a written copy of Orfinger's decision. They are still reviewing their options going forward.

GoToby.com understands that there are a few other similar lawsuits against the OHPOA and one against the Flagler Board of County Commissioners over the short-term vacation rental issue. I have no word on the other POA lawsuits, but Judge Orfinger, who is also assigned to the BOCC lawsuit, has continued a hearing in the BOCC case that was scheduled for this week until May 27 at 2:30. He has scheduled the hearing for two and one-half hours. 

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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.