LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Intrusive, invasive and downright creepy is how residents in one South Florida community describe their homeowners association.
Lloyd Havel, who lives at The Hills of Inverrary in Lauderhill, which is a private community, called Local 10's Leave it to Layron team after getting a call from his HOA.
"(They said), 'Your car is expired and in disrepair.' And I'm, like, 'The car is not in disrepair. I drive it. And (they said,) 'The tags are expired.' So I said, 'OK, fine,'" Havel said.
Havel said he bought a new car and moved the old one outside and covered it until he decided what to do with it, which prompted another call from the HOA.
"(He said,) 'We'll go ahead and move the car. That's not really a problem.' (I said,) 'But, how did you even know that?' And he said, 'Well, we went up and we uncovered your car and we searched your car.' And I said, 'You did what?'" Havel said.
Havel called the Lauderhill Police Department to report the incident.
He also started talking to neighbors, who had their own stories about storage bins that the HOA had opened and rummaged through.
A 2014 police report was made after a woman claimed a worker broke into her screened-in patio.
"Actually went and slit open the screen, reached inside, found the lock, broke in," Havel said.
The worker allegedly broke into the patio area to use an electrical outlet.
The worker claimed the OK was given by the same property manager who had spoken with police in Havel's incident, who said he had spotted Havel's parked, covered car with a flat tire.
The property manager said Havel's driveway is a limited common area, meaning he's allowed to access it, and the "disabled" covered car violated the association's rules, so he lifted the cover, noted the expired tag and called Havel.
"That's the scary part about it. These are the ones we know about. How many do we not know about?" Havel said. "Bigger issue is: Why are you doing this? We feel it's kind of creepy."
Local 10 News was given the same letter Havel got from his HOA's lawyers, which cited his driveway as a common element that the "association must be able to access," and that Havel has "no right to privacy from the association identifying a car parked in a driveway."
Attorney Kenneth Lewis practiced HOA and condo law and now teaches it. He said HOAs don't have unfettered rights to do whatever they want.
"What happens, oftentimes, is that members of the board overreach in their zeal to do the right thing," he said.
Lewis said homeowners' rights in an HOA are not absolute. That's when the rules have to be clear to everyone.
"They're seeking here to have the condominium docs modified and to be specific about what they can and cannot do, and the procedures for giving notice and the procedures for inspection, etc., and that's the right step," Lewis said.
Havel has since collected dozens of signatures from his neighbors, addressing those concerns and rules.
"We find it invasive," Havel said. "We do not feel safe."