HOA owners who never heard of Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act, better known as MRTA, better get to know this topic well. To simplify what the Act stands for, it basically means that your governing documents in your homeowner’s association can literally expire and disappear after they have been recorded for thirty years. The intent of the statute was that title examiners can ignore stale documents that are 30 years of age or older when doing their title examinations. The problem with the law however, is that it is clear that homeowner association covenants are never meant to expire. There should be an exception to the law carved out for HOA documents but there isn’t. So for now, just know that before you do anything else in your HOA, stop and take a look as to when your governing documents were recorded. If they were recorded twenty five years ago or more, I would suggest immediately instructing the association’s counsel to start taking steps to preserve the association’s governing documents.
Before the 30 year expiration period the covenants can be preserved. After the 30 year period, the documents expire, lot by lot, and they would then need to be revitalized. There is no need to go into the technical or “how to” aspects of the statute. Suffice to say, it’s easier to preserve the documents than to revitalize them. Make sure it doesn’t happen. If the documents do expire, there is no longer an ability to enforce the governing documents, no longer the ability to collect assessments, enforce architectural control in your community or file lawsuits or arbitration actions against anyone who would otherwise be in violation of the governing documents.
Condominium owners are generally worry free when it comes to MRTA. The technical reason is that deeds that transfer ownership of condominium units always state the Official Book and Page where the original declaration of condominium is recorded. Deeds on homes in homeowner associations normally never contain the book and page where the declaration of covenants is recorded.
I truly dummied down this article to make it simple and clear. I could have written a much more technical blog. I didn’t because I don’t want to get away from the fact that if you have any concerns whatsoever that your community is approaching the 30 year mark, don’t wait too long to check, or you might fight yourself living in a community that no longer has a set of governing documents.