Article Courtesy of FOX 13 NEWS
By Merissa Lynn
Published May 26, 2017
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Charles Rivers and Rachael Bagby both say their homeowners'
association fined them for rolling through a stop sign.
"I admit it, I ran the
stop sign," said Bagby. "I'm not perfect, I'm human."
"You know at the end of the day, you know, we did the
violation," said Rivers.
Both admit they were wrong for not coming to a complete
stop. But neither one of them expected what happened next.
They were each fined $100, and the ticket wasn't given by a
police officer -- it was from their homeowners' association.
Florida law allows HOAs to fine tenants for breaking the rules, and that
includes running stop signs.
"This can be particularly helpful communities that are gated or otherwise not
easily accessible for the police officers to regularly patrol," said Web Melton,
the attorney for Excelsior, the HOA that governs the couple's Riverview
The HOA keeps its eye on residents who commit traffic violations, like running a
stop sign. It also keeps a recording.
"It's uncomfortable to have strangers filming your loved ones," said Rivers.
"You don't know who they are, who's regulating them. I mean, if it were law
enforcement or a licensed private investigator, right, they have certain
guidelines and rules they have to follow. I don't know where their parameters
Upon learning that the HOA records video of traffic violations, Bagby says she
became worried about the safety of her family, including the couple's
7-month-old daughter, Ryland.
"A man, in an unmarked vehicle that I've never met before, is following me,"
said Bagby. "I'm getting my daughter out of the vehicle."
"What would someone think?" she added.
The couple believes the video intrudes on their privacy, but Florida law allows
it. Melton says the HOA uses it for evidence.
"If you have videotape evidence, that prevents it from being a 'he said, she
said' situation to allow that committee to make an informed decision," said
Rivers and Bagby can appeal their violations, but since it's caught on tape,
there's not much they can say.
"I was told they don't give any type of warnings, they are here to strictly
listen to what I have to say," said Bagby.
For now, they'll pay the violations, but they have some advice for anyone who
lives in a HOA community.
"Not everything is going to be put in the covenants, obviously, or in your
lease," said Rivers. "I think it's important to maybe pose those questions, talk
to the community, talk to the neighbors you potentially maybe living next to,
and ask them what they're experiencing and really get a feel for that. I wish
that, maybe, we would have done that ahead of time."
Melton agrees and says tenants are their own best advocates and should know the
The HOA says it has sent out several mailers and the community also has a poster
near its mailroom warning drivers. The money collected from the fines goes back
into the community for things like better stop signs and speed limit signs
throughout the neighborhood.