When Life Gives You Lemons...Talk to Your HOA Before Making a Lemonade Stand
A Florida homeowners association recently took action to shut down a lemonade stand run by children ages five through ten. I remember the misspent days of my youth, sitting on the corner on a sunny summer weekday, wondering why no one in my rural neighborhood stopped by to sample my watered-down Countrytime…
Of course, I had five neighbors within a mile, and they all worked on Tuesdays. It appears the children in Florida have a better business plan – they are selling lemonade in an actual neighborhood. Their association, however, has taken the perspective that such sales are an impermissible commercial activity, prohibited by the association’s governing documents.
At first glance, this is absurd. Kids have lemonade stands. It’s a nice way to keep them out of trouble, and teach them the value of money. However, it appears this lemonade stand has been a fixture in the community for weeks. This isn’t your typical weekend stand, but is instead something that is a regular, potentially long-term activity.
In addition, we don’t have information regarding how the stand is actually run. I’ve had an association shut down a “lemonade stand” that was, in reality, an adult’s multi-week garage sale held on the common elements. Beyond that extreme example, a lot of people simply do not care to be solicited in their neighborhoods.
When does an association have the obligation to step in to halt facially innocent covenant violations? Does an association weaken its ability to enforce its commercial activity restrictions against other owners when it fails to enforce the restrictions against elementary schoolers?
Associations are required to take action to enforce their covenants. It is the Board’s duty to the rest of the Association members to make sure everyone abides by the rules that govern the community – and this can even include children at a lemonade stand.