Awful Florida HOA Threatens Nurse With $1,000 Fine Over Quarantine RV in Driveway

The nurse expects to work directly with COVID-19 patients and her husband is also essential government personnel.

byStef Schrader| UPDATED Apr 3, 2020 8:09 PM
Awful Florida HOA Threatens Nurse With $1,000 Fine Over Quarantine RV in Driveway

“We figured the HOA would be more lenient as the community is all pulling together,” Sarah Lynch told WJXT. Unfortunately, that's not how homeowners associations work. 

Lynch, a clinical nurse coordinator, lives in the Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club subdivision in Green Cove Springs, Florida. However, Magnolia Point's HOA took issue with her family's plan to keep themselves safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The HOA threatened to fine the family as much as $1,000 for keeping an RV in their driveway that they planned to use in case any member of the family needed to go into quarantine.

The note left taped to Lynch's RV., Screencap via WJXT

The RV wasn't just a big paranoia-pod, either, as three members of Lynch's family have good reason to be extra careful right now. Lynch told WJXT that she works for a major hospital group in the Jacksonville area that has to bear the flood of COVID-19 patients. Her husband works for the Department of Defense and has to keep coming in to work as he has been designated as essential personnel at an area base. They have a special needs daughter at home, and keeping her safe during this pandemic is a priority. 

Lynch has so far been able to work from home, managing staff, patients and calls for the system. However, as the pandemic worsens, Lynch says she has been working around the clock and expects to be called in to work at the hospital soon to relieve other staff members who are fatigued or who catch the virus themselves.

The family's home, where the RV could have easily been tucked behind the trees. , Screencap via WJXT

So, the family brought their RV home and parked it in their circular driveway, just in case one of the two parents needed to quarantine themselves for a while. It has its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, making it ideal for such a purpose.

Sounds reasonable, right? It makes so much common sense that the Magnolia Point HOA stepped in to do what HOAs do best: threaten to fine her for every day the RV remained on her property.

“They had a big argument, discussion via the board without speaking to us and decided that we needed to remove our RV or we would be charged $100 a day, up to $1,000, if we left it here,” Lynch told WJXT.

The HOA didn't even have the cojones to notify the family about these fines in person. They initially left a copy of the homeowners association rules with the section on parking and storage circled taped to the RV. 

The initial note in green plus Sarah Lynch's reponse., Screencap via WJXT

The family fired back with a note of their own on the RV, addressed to the "BUSY BODY who came on our property to post HOA guidelines on our RV during this PANDEMIC." (Accurate description, 10/10, nailed it.)

Lynch maintains that this strict enforcement is absolutely unnecessary right now, and told WJXT that the homeowners association president refused to even negotiate with her on the subject. 

Larry Hanline, who serves as the president of the Magnolia Point Community Association’s board of directors, defended their hard-line decision in an email to WJXT, quoted by the station in part: 

The owners in this case, one who is a nurse and currently working at home and the other who works at a local military base are neither infected with the COVID-19 virus nor have they been directed by authorities to self-quarantine. Hence, they have no immediate or justifiable need to keep an RV at their residence.

The owners made no attempt to contact the Association, register the RV at the front gate to obtain a standard 48-hour pass or subsequent extension(s) to keep the RV on site beyond the normal 48-hour limit. The requirement to register RVs, boats and trailers has been a long standing rule of the Association for many years.

For the record, I received a phone call from the Lynch’s (sic) and listened to their argument to keep their RV at their home. I assured them that if they needed to self-quarantine, we would support them in the safest way possible, including parking their RV in the driveway…

We have a number of residents who work in the medical field and not one of them has signaled a need to keep an RV at their residence "just in case." Nor has there been a pubic (sic) call to provide RVs for the purpose of quarantining individuals outside of direct hospital care.

The HOA Board’s position is simple [...] we will support and accommodate to the maximum extent possible, any valid need, and will organize community support for any resident or family that falls prey to the COVID-19 virus (or other emergent need), to provide any and all assistance desired. MPCA holds in the highest regard, law enforcement, first responders, our military, and all medical professionals who place themselves at greater risk to take care of the rest of us should we ever need medical assistance.

It's worth noting that WJXT, the Jacksonville local news station that initially reported the story says that they sent an email to the HOA board and called three different phone numbers for HOA board contacts before publishing their initial report on Tuesday, and they only received an email back after it started to go viral. (Internet-viral, know.)

Lynch responded to Hanline's statement in her own email to WJXT, where she called BS on how much the HOA allegedly cares about her and her family: 

We understand the normal HOA rules, we aren’t dense. However, we are cognizant of current events around the world and in our community and really thought that common sense and compassion would prevail; we were mistaken. [..] At no time did he (Hanline) ever tell us that the RV would be accepted even if I should become infected because I asked if preparing ahead of time wasn’t acceptable, were we supposed to then after becoming exposed take the exposed person and a non exposed person to pick up the RV and get it set up after exposure/infection? He told me no because you can only have it here for 48 hours.

She also noted that the 48-hour rule for RVs has never been strictly enforced in the past. 

"In the several times we have brought our RV through the gate to load/unload at our house for less than a 48 hour period, not once has the guard gate inquired, asked about or issued an RV pass, if it was strictly enforced, why not?" Lynch wrote to WJXT.

Gee, it's like HOAs' reputation for making arbitrary and nonsensical policy enforcement decisions is warranted or something!

The RV has since moved back to a storage facility in order to avoid the fines, but just think of the pettiness involved here. We're in the midst of the worst pandemic in over a century, and the HOA is more concerned about keeping up appearances. Who cares? 

“The time will come when I will probably need to isolate myself,”  she told WJXT. “It didn’t seem they were concerned about our health concerns or our jobs as essential personnel,” she continued.

The one silver lining is that at least other people care. Several WJXT readers and viewers offered to pay the fine so the Lynch family could keep the RV at their home.

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