Before we get into the legalities of this issue, set forth below, here is an excerpt from the September 21, 2022 Board Meeting Highlights on mailboxes:
"When this was raised back in late 2019, the price of the mailbox per homeowner was about $330 and that was three years ago. Yes, that’s right, each home would have to pay that either by increased maintenance dues or a special assessment. And that was the price per home three years ago, long before the current inflation kicked in.
Here’s another reality: if the community votes to take over the repair and maintenance of all mailboxes, you are in effect paying for your neighbor’s neglect of his mailbox. You are actually encouraging the neglect because now your neighbor knows that you’re paying to keep his mailbox pretty and the cost to him is 1/600 of what it would have otherwise been.
So when it gets really ugly, moldy, dirty, and otherwise unpleasant to look at, the HOA will pay to clean it up and he saved the hassle and money of doing it, and you paid for it. So if your neighbor’s a slob, he benefits the most. This idea encourages lack of upkeep.
And that’s another reason, aside from the legal issue, why this community vote will likely go down in flames.
Yes, we all want pretty mailboxes, but not for a negligent neighbor at our expense."
July 10, 2022 Update:
Federal law always reigns supreme. So any rule or regulation that conflicts with federal law cannot be enforced as it must bow to federal law.
Here is a summary of and excerpts from the United States Post Office Regulations, Post Office Manual:
Section 632.11: "Purchase, installation, and maintenance of mail receptacles is the responsibility of the customer" (owner).
This means that the HOA owns only one mailbox: the one for the office which is 5075 Cascade Lakes Boulevard, and more specifically, not your private mailbox.
Section 632.522: "the house number must be shown on the box."
Section 632.523: "Posts and other supports for curbside mailboxes are owned and controlled by customers." (You also own the post, and if you share a post, you own it equally with your neighbor.)
Conclusion: The HOA does not own your mailbox or the post or the house numbers affixed thereto.
Previous Posts Concerning Mailboxes from 2021 and 2020:
Florida Statute 720.3035(5) states:
“Neither the association nor any architectural, construction improvement, or other such similar committee of the association shall enforce any policy or restriction that is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of a parcel owner set forth in the declaration of covenants or other published guidelines and standards authorized by the declaration of covenants, whether uniformly applied or not…”
This necessarily means that the association has no right to impede your ownership rights to your mailbox. Having a community vote to determine whether or not you will be forced to have another mailbox not to your liking is illegal.
Anyone is free to upgrade or change his or her mailbox subject to ARB approval. Mailboxes are strictly determined by the individual homeowner with approval of the ARB. The community may not force an individual owner to pay for a designated mailbox, period. There is to be no BOD or community vote on this matter as proven below, quoting the HOA's governing documents.
Mailboxes are specifically referenced in the HOA's Declaration of Conditions, Covenants, Easements and Restrictions on file with the State of Florida; at page 1-18, it states: “Section O. Mailboxes. No mailboxes or similar improvement shall be installed on any Unit or Lot unless the location thereof has been approved by the ARB and the materials therefore [sic] and color thereof have been approved by the ARB and are in accordance with such standards for materials and colors as may be adopted by the ARB.” This necessarily means that an individual homeowner may apply to the ARB, the architectural review board of our HOA, for a specific and unique mailbox, and there is, in fact, no requirement that all mailboxes be uniform.
Furthermore, under the HOA's Rules and Regulations, page 4-8, under B. General Rules, Number 8, it states: “Mailboxes and numbers are the property of the individual homeowners. The homeowner is responsible for maintenance and/or replacement in accordance with the standards established by the property manager. New mailboxes must be in accordance with standards established by the Board of Directors.” Thus, again, there is no requirement that all mailboxes be uniform. And to the extent the Rules and Regulations are in conflict with the Declaration on file with the State of Florida, the Declaration controls and the Rules and Regs must bow to the Declaration.
Therefore, it is actually improper for the Board of Directors to vote or for there to be a community vote on changing mailboxes en masse because the HOA does not own the mailboxes and no resident has the right to vote on issues concerning another resident’s mailbox.
So, if a mailbox looks like crap, the HOA has a right to proceed under its Rules and Regs, Section E., Violation Guidelines, at pages 4-16 to 4-17, but that’s it.
If you don’t like your mailbox, simply submit your proposed new mailbox design to the ARB. The ARB will either approve it or disapprove it. The actual ARB process is a matter for a different discussion.
November 10, 2020:
This is a copy of a letter we sent to a resident in response to some questions about the mailboxes; we also encourage you to read our discussion of the matter directly below this post.
"We understand the frustration about the mailboxes and the look of the community in general. To us, the most glaring issue is the appearance of the roads. Simple resealing would completely change the look of the entire place in a very positive way. It would be relatively inexpensive, and it would dramatically increase curb appeal.
As to the mailboxes, we are familiar with the aluminum mailboxes to which you refer. One resident referred to that mailbox as looking like a “coffin.” Why is uniformity of mailboxes so important? Some think uniformity is boring and gauche, like a cheap perfume. Some of the very tony communities do not have uniformity of mailboxes, and some of those unique mailboxes are beautiful and match the landscaping and character of the individual home, which greatly enhances the look of the community.
If one or more Board members wants to spend community funds on fancy signage to look more like a country club, then the homes and mailboxes should also reflect that image. For example, we are upgrading the appearance of our home and its curb appeal by doing custom landscaping which Arthur designed and is personally creating and completing (when it’s not raining). It would be nice to have a mailbox that matches this custom job. Our governing documents permit such a unique mailbox, with ARB approval. This enhances the community’s curb appeal.
Barring a change in the governing documents, there is no rightful and legal way for the Board to do anything with regard to the individual homeowner’s domain over his/her mailbox (and pole, which is part of the mailbox unit), and even such a change is fraught with legal problems as explained below.
You have the issue of whether or not they can legally “grandfather in” all the current homeowners as opposed to this proposed rule applying to new buyers only. Current owners purchased the home and its appurtenances, which included the mailboxes and poles. That is a personal asset of the owner which cannot be taken. If taken, that would be called theft. And changing documents does not transpose the theft into a legal taking. You cannot have a community vote to steal a homeowner’s mailbox."