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Appeals Court Rules on HOA’s Petition Concerning Airboats

Homeowners have an unfettered right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. Legally speaking, this means that all property owners have a right to be free from nuisance, noxious odors, wafting dust and unrelenting noise. However, for homeowners and HOA’s actually facing non-stop violations of this basic principle, the options can seem limited – particularly if the nuisance is coming from a nearby recreational area or business.

As one case recently highlighted, there are options available for anyone stuck facing an unwanted nuisance situation, including injunctions and possibly financial damages. If you or your community association is grappling with a matter similar to that described below, do not hesitate to contact Michael L. Feinstein in Ft. Lauderdale today.

HOA Sues Airboat Company

In late 2015, a Winter Haven appeals court considered a pivotal case involving a major clash between the Lake Hamilton Lakeshore Homeowners’ Association and a local airboat outfit looking to use the lake to conduct daily tours for visitors to the area. Sounds like a win-win situation at first, until the HOA caught wind of the extreme noise to be generated by the watercraft – and decided to put a stop to it.

In its complaint, the HOA asserted that Captain Fred’s Airboat Nature Tours was committing actionable nuisance in operating its nature tours along Lake Hamilton – particularly against the dozens of homeowners who had purchased their properties to escape the clamor of city life. At the trial level, the HOA was unsuccessful in its bid to enjoin Captain Fred’s – with the court holding that airboats could not possibly be considered a nuisance, as they are authorized by law.

On appeal, the HOA again raised its claims that the airboats unreasonably interfere with Lake Hamilton’s waterfront residences – a claim also unsuccessfully raised to the Lake Hamilton Town Council in 2012, which cited lack of jurisdiction over state-controlled bodies of water.

Fortunately for the HOA, the appellate court took a contrasting view to the trial court’s opinion and held that notwithstanding the legality of operating an airboat, such watercraft may nonetheless be considered a nuisance. In referring to the statutes regulating the use of airboats, as well as the laws pertaining to nuisance, [t]he legislative scheme does not reflect a strong public policy rationale to deprive a citizen of their right to avail themselves of a remedy for nuisance.”

Further, the appellate court opted to overrule a non-persuasive opinion submitted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s, which similarly held that the otherwise-legal airboats could not be considered a nuisance. The holding was a victory for both the HOA and homeowners who were previously subjected to the noise of daily airboat tours seven days per week.

Contact a Ft. Lauderdale Real Estate Attorney Today!

If you are facing a difficult situation involving an HOA or real estate matter, please contact attorney Michael L. Feinstein in Ft. Lauderdale today: (954) 767-9662.