Condominium & Homeowner's Association Law
Florida condominiums and homeowners’ associations
Introduced in 1963, Florida condominiums offered a new concept of ownership. A condominium combines individual unit ownership with ownership of common areas, which may include the structure of the building, roof, walls, hallways, real property, and recreational areas.
In a homeowner’s association, each member owns his or her own lot in the same way as a single family homeowner. However, the surrounding common areas are owned and managed by the Association for the benefit of the homeowners. Homeowners’ association can be a neighborhood association of single-family homes or of a mixed community, and it can have a very broad and or a very limited scope of operation such as road maintenance, or operation of recreational facilities.
Typically, developers form a condominium and/or a homeowners' association, and after selling a certain number of individual units, the developer turns the association over to the unit owners, who control the association and carry out its duties, running it in much the same way as small- to medium-sized businesses or small, local government conducts its affairs.
There are significant differences between these types of community associations and the application of law sometimes turns on these differences.
Our attorneys represent condominium and homeowners' associations in a wide spectrum of matters, including:
Condominium and homeowners’ associations need legal advice for conducting their association and representation for issues that come into conflict. Such issues may be resolved through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation. Common disputes involve issues between unit owners, assessments collection disagreements, construction defects, challenges to condominium amendments of by-laws or other documents, and disagreements with local governments.
Association document amendments
Association documents include:
- Declaration of Condominium/Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions
- Articles of incorporation
- Rules and regulations
When disputes do not resolve through negotiation, our lawyers represent associations in mediation, arbitration, or courtroom litigation of civil lawsuits. The following are examples of issues that are frequently subject to litigation:
- Construction defect disputes
- Contractor disputes
- Local ordinance violations
- Disputed prohibition of pets
- Restraining orders to prohibit threats of violence
- Disputed parking violations
- Developer disputes
- Disputed occupancy restrictions
- Nuisance violations
- Alleged breach of fiduciary duty
- Zoning and planned development disputes
- Contract review
The firm reviews contracts on behalf of condominium or homeowners’ associations to ensure that contracts are well-written, soundly based in the law, that they meet the association’s objectives and that the terms and conditions are not open to other interpretation.
Our attorneys provide representation for breach of contract or disputed contract issues involving contracts the association has with developers, unit owners, construction workers, employees, and management companies, to name a few.
Developer transfer of control
The developer establishes a condominium or homeowners' association and turns it over to the unit or homeowners after selling a specified number of units. Florida statutes require developers to turn over the association to unit owners in a timely and proper manner, and to meet statute requirements of all items listed and all funds to which the association is entitled. Part of the turnover process includes an association investigation that confirms there are no defects or deficiencies.
Election and annual meeting assistance
The Florida Condominium Act requires elections to select members of the Board of Directors, using secret ballots or voting machines. Elections of directors in a homeowner’s association must be conducted in accordance with the procedures set forth in the governing documents of the association. Elections may also be held to remove directors. Unit owners are entitled to hold an annual meeting. Additional association meetings may be held, and notification of meetings must be posted. Our firm assists associations in meeting the legal requirements for elections and association meetings.
The condominium or homeowners’ association determines the costs of operating and maintaining the condominium. Unit owners make payments, called assessments, to cover their share of common expenses. Assessments are proportionate to ownership interest in the condominium (usually square footage). Assessments cover expenses such as management, garbage collection, pest control, taxes, insurance, common area utilities costs, and reserves. With respect to collections, we do not bill the association for collection activities until the conclusion of the proceedings. Generally, all collection fees and costs are collected from the delinquent unit owner and/or we obtain title to the unit for the association.
Rules enforcement policy
The governing documents of an association contain rules and regulations. The condominium or homeowners’ association should create a rules enforcement policy that provides guidelines for violator notification, advisement of penalties, and defines the appeal process.
Hurricane preparation, policy, and litigation
Florida condominium and homeowner’s associations need to have preparation plans and policy in place to deal with hurricanes, such as evacuation procedures, requirements for precautionary measures, etc. Our lawyers assist associations in establishing hurricane policy. In the event that there is hurricane damage, we represent the association in insurance claims to recover compensation for damages.
Lien filing and foreclosures
We file liens and foreclosures against delinquent unit owners on behalf of the association and advance the association lien recording charges.
With respect to substantive legal matters other than collections, we provide every Association with a substantially discounted hourly rate. We provide status reports at no cost and are always available to assist clients with any legal problems they may have.
We provide immediate assistance with all legal matters relating to Florida Condominium and Homeowners' Association laws. We are happy to appear at board meetings at any time to introduce ourselves and to answer any questions the board members may have about our firm.