Resident: HOA Threatens To Break Into Home

Homeowners' Association Wants Couple To Remove Sign

Article and Video Courtesy of 

Channel 10 -- Just News -- Miami

Published January 8, 2010

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A South Florida couple said their homeowners' association has threatened to break into their home to remove a sign posted in a window.


Bill Elliot and his girlfriend, Mary Ann Frye, bought a single-family home in Aruba at the Oasis in Homestead in 2007. The couple said the house is infested with Chinese drywall, and they want Lennar to buy them out so they can move on.


The couple has posted two signs on their property -- one on the front lawn, another in a window.


The signs read, "For Sale: Shoddy construction, Lennar toxic Chinese drywall."


"We have had appliances just stop working, computers, television sets. Even my electric toothbrush has stopped functioning. Both of us have had a lot of sore throats and a lot of headaches. That's pretty much a regular occurrence," said Elliot.


At first Elliot's neighborhood association sent a friendly reminder saying he could have no signs, displays, advertisements or lettering without approval. Then, he received a lawyer's letter warning if the signs don't come down, the association will come and remove them.


A letter from Association Law Group said, "Should no one be home at the time the Association comes, the services of a locksmith will be utilized and you will be responsible for the cost."


"How would you feel if someone said they were going to come with a locksmith and open your door?" said Elliot. "They're threatening to break into our home."


"We have a right to tell people how we feel. This is what America is all about," said Frye.


But Local 10 has discovered something Elliot and Frye didn't know. According to the by-laws that govern the neighborhood, which Elliot signed when he bought the house, the association does have the right to enter his property and remove any violations after a written notice.


Elliot said he is a target because the association

doesn't like the message. He said that other neighbors have signs in their windows.


No one at M & E Associates of Miami, the company that manages the property, would talk to Local 10.


Kenneth Direktor, an attorney with Becker and Poliakoff, a firm that represents 4,000 condo and homeowners' associations, said it is unusual in a single-family home community to have the association have the right to break the lock and go into a unit.


"You don't want to have that confrontation, one that as you're questioning first, could even turn violent. That's more damaging to the community than the sign. You can deal with the sign through legal process," Direktor said.


Elliot said he has put the Homestead police on notice about what he said might happen if someone enters his home.


"We'll take the signs down when things are settled," Elliot said.


Lennar has told Elliot and Frye that it is willing to gut the house and pay the couple's rent for the six months it might take to remediate the issue. Elliot and his girlfriend want the company to buy them out.