Know The Limits of a Condominium Board’s Authority

Eleven condominium associations belong to a master association. In the Declaration of Condominium for one of the associations, a condominium restriction states: “all units above ground floor must remain fully carpeted at all times except in the bathrooms and kitchen.” One day the owners of a second floor unit asked the property manager for permission to lay ceramic tiles throughout their unit. The manager wrote it’s “O.K.” if the master association approves, and she referred the owners to the master ...

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A Little Reason by the Board of Directors Never Hurts

This is a case lesson in how not to handle a common problem. A unit owner leased her unit without approval of the Association, contrary to a restriction in the Declaration. When the property manager learned of this, the manager sent a letter to the owner, stating: “the occupant must vacate the premises within 30 days. Failure to do so will result in legal proceedings.”

Less than 30 days later, the owner, through her attorney, wrote back: “her failure to seek ...

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Grandfather Status For Condominium Unit Owners

When an association amends its existing declaration, the rights of existing owners must be considered.

A declaration of condominium may not contain all the property restrictions that owners want, especially as a community changes over time. Although declarations may be amended to establish new constraints, amendments cannot always be enforced against everyone.

For example, there may be no restrictions against boats in the parking lot or pets on the premises. If no other restriction exists (such as local zoning ordinances), owners will ...

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Property Managers Must Help Their Condominium Collection Attorneys

The following is an actual case which shows how a manager’s failure to make one phone call to the Association’s attorney ended up costing her Association thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

A unit owner lived alone and traveled for business reasons every month, often for weeks at a time. To avoid accumulating mail in her mailbox, she told the manager (and others) to use her local business office as her mailing address for all association business, but the manager did ...

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Material Alteration of the Common Elements: Owners Don’t Always Have a Right of Approval

Section 718.112(2) of the Condominium Act provides as follows: “Except as otherwise provided in this Section, there shall be no material alteration or substantial addition to the common elements …except in the manner provided in the Declaration.” Most Declarations specify that a vote of the unit owners is necessary to approve such a change, and the number of votes needed, typically from 50% to 75 % of the total voting interests, is also usually specified. If the Declaration does not ...

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Condominium Lien Foreclosures vs. the Rights of Mortgage Holders

One of my condominium Presidents asked me to advise him and his Board about the process of foreclosing a condominium lien and how the rights of the Association relate to the rights of a mortgage holder. For purposes of this article, a first mortgage holder will be referred to as a “Bank”, even though the first mortgage may be held by a bank, an individual, a mortgage company, pension fund, or other entity.

Discussion – The laws governing condominiums in Florida ...

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Changes to the Florida Condominium Act are not always enforceable

On March 31, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court issued an unanimous opinion in an important condominium case, Cohn vs. The Grand Condominium Association, Inc.

The case involved an amendment to the Florida Condominium Act concerning how directors must be chosen in a mixed-use condominium (a condominium with both residential and commercial units). The amended law contradicted the provisions for choosing Directors contained in the original Declaration, where the Declaration gave the commercial and retail owners the right to choose the majority ...

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Associations cannot impose a fine without prior, proper notice to the owner

On July 8, 2012, the Association’s attorney sent a Notice to the unit owners of a violations committee meeting “regarding the Association’s intent to levy fines” due to their dog’s frequent barking. The notice stated the hearing was to be on July 16. On July 16, the violations Committee met and imposed two fines in the amount of $100.00 each per day for 10 days for a continuing violation, for a total of $2,000.00. The owners did not attend the ...

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Selective Enforcement – Is that your defense?

“Selective enforcement” is a defense to an action by an Association to enforce a restriction against one owner where it has not acted to enforce it against other owners. The defense is shown where a party demonstrates there are substantially similar violations of which the association has notice but had not acted to correct. One arbitrator at the Division of Condominiums wrote: “Selective enforcement involves the failure of an association to enforce the condominium documents in other instances bearing sufficient ...

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Withholding maintenance dues is not a good idea

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Condominium associations are not-for-profit corporations whose members elect directors to manage and operate their business affairs. In the course of such business operations, they incur expenses in the name of the association for various goods and services, such as building and landscaping maintenance and repairs, insurance, water and electric services, management fees, professional fees, and every other item that makes up ...

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