Florida Condo Owners Association Rights Legislation

Topic: 2008 Florida legislation further protects condo owner association rights – Changes to Florida Condo Act FS 718 herald enhanced association safeguards for condo dwellers. Show date: July 2, 2008.

condo association rights reformer The State of Florida passed legislation in 2008 that further protects condo owner rights. Our featured guest spearheaded this legislation. He’s at the forefront of the homeowner rights consumer reform movement in Florida, including “drawing-board” legislation that will protect the rights of homeowners associations HOA members.

Guest : Honorable Julio Robaina was the first Hispanic elected commissioner of the City of South Miami and the first Hispanic Mayor of the City of South Miami. Under his stewardship, the City of South Miami was named one of the top ten cities in the United States in 2001 and received the honor of being named “All-America City” by the National Civic League amongst approximately 600 cities and counties that compete yearly.

Homeowner Rights Defense KitRepresentative Robaina was elected to serve District 117 of the Florida House of Representatives on November 5, 2002. During the legislative term of 2002-2004, he was assigned chair of the Select Committee on Condominium Association Governance, and vice chair of Local Government & Veterans Affairs. He served on several committees including: Business Regulation, Health Care, Transportation, Select Committee on Florida’s Economic Future, Select Committee to Protect Private Property Rights and the Subcommittee on Energy. The Representative also served as the Vice Chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation in 2005.

He is currently serving on the following committees: Health Quality, Government Efficiency & Accountability Council and serves as Chair of Urban & Local Affairs. He also is currently serving as the Chairman of the Select Committee on Condominium and Homeowner’s Association Governance.

Click here to learn more about your condo & HOA rights.

Comments

  1. Fred Taylor says

    As Treasurer of a Florida Condo Association, how can we find out
    the Associations rights against condo owners, who have not paid their share of Special Assessments for new roofs, building repairs, building and flood insurance,etc ?

    Can the Association stop suppling cable television for owners who have not paid monthly dues ? (this is part of dues)

    Any information would be helpful.

    Fred Taylor
    407-399-8787

  2. Rob Allegra says

    I bought a home in a HOA and at the time the documents allowed for sale or for rent signs. The developer has now changed the documents to state that no signs are allowed only the developer can have them. I currently have a for rent sign in my window and they are imposing a fine on me until I remove the sign. I was wondering if the US 1st Amendment allows me to display a sign in my window, If not is there some other avenue I can use to allow my sign? TY


    Dear Rob,

    I raised this issue with our homeowners association documents expert, Dr. David Goldenberg, author of Creating Condo & Home Owner Association Documents. Dr. Goldenberg states that:

    “Initially, the developer [more like its attorney using a relatively standard form] sets the rules, including those pertaining to signs, and expresses those rules in the community’s governing documents. But those rules are subject to state statutes in effect at the time as well as revisions/additions to rules in the future.

    “However, because the state statutes change over time, they must be consulted in case they override the earlier “whims” of the developer. Moreover, the governing documents can be revised by a majority of the community if they follow the procedure set forth in the governing documents or the statutes.

    “Generally, certain signs are forbidden [usually business advertisements, religion, etc.] while others may be allowed [warnings of burglar alarms/protective services, for sale, temporary political signs, etc.].”

    I hope this is helpful – Dr. Joyce

  3. Renato Carboni says

    We are having a problem obtaining the necessary number of proxies to change our 30 year-old condo rules and by laws due to absentee owners etc. Is there any other way we can change our condo rules?

    • says

      Dear Renato,

      It’s probably impossible to change the rules without approval of a majority of all homeowners. However, the catch is what constitutes a majority. For example, it’s one thing If a majority is defined as 51% of all eligible voters but it could be quite another matter if all that’s required is a 51% of all votes cast by eligible voters.

      That may depend on the law(s) of the state where the condo is located as well as on exactly what the governing documents say in defining a majority. It’s also possible that the law or the governing documents allows exceptions.

      Additionally, the board’s attorney may recommend a conservative interpretation as a precautionary measure. If at all possible, you should consult the board’s attorney or an independent counterpart.

      You will find many such answers and more in our Homeowners Association Rights Defense Kit.We also offer one-on-one homeowners rights consultations at StarrPublications.com.

      All the best,

      Dr. Joyce Starr & Dr. David Goldenberg”>Dr. Joyce Starr & Dr. David Goldenberg

  4. Debra says

    Hello,
    When I purchased my home I was under the understanding that there was a homeowners assoc. But after review of my docs and Warranty title we are listed as a condo. When are a single family dwelling with no common wall, our carports are connected with a flat roof and a shadow box fence as a divider. My question is with the Insurance changes will effect me. I have had State farm for years and was covered by a HO but some of my neighbors tried to get coverage are being told that you are a condo. Can you explain to me the difference and what needs to be done to change to homeowners. Thank you. ~ Debra

  5. says

    I own a condo in a gated community in West Palm Beach. Recently my former husband lost his job due to the economy. He came to visit, suffered a heart attack and ended up having open heart surgery. Six by-passes and extensive lung problems. He lost everything and had no where to live. He is presently applying for social security. I went to the board and asked that he be allowed to live with me.

    I was told a background check was required. He had an arrest on his background check, which I previously disclosed to the condo board prior. They took my $50.00 and did the background check. The next few days were a roller coaster. I was told to bring up a copy of his license and registration and that he probably would be approved. I was told to obtain a letter from his lawyer explaining the reason behind the plea he took. Which we did.

    He was denied due to his arrest. They told me they wanted to make this a safe community. I know there are people living here who have a record. I was told that if he was already living here and got arrested, there is nothing they could do. I have been asking for a letter why he was denied and signatures of the board members who denied him. They gave me a run around for a few weeks. I went up to the office and was told they do not give letters of denial. A sly remark from one of the board members said they would get him on trespassing if he is on the premises. Do they have the right to deny and the right to have him removed from my home if I want him here? Shouldn’t they have a letter of denial? Very upset. Thank you, Joanne

  6. Madeline Jordan says

    Hello, my docs do not allow signs in the windows. The Master interprets this to be for sale signs and the docs do not specify. Do I have any recourse to post a sign?

    Thanks

    Madeline

  7. chris jones says

    Hi, the City of Miami Beach is going to pass a law to prohibit condo rentals less than six months and one day. our condo docs allow us to rent for 1 month, but not less. Can the city override our condo documents and make us rent for more than six months? This may make some of us who rent our units for a few months in the summer lose our homestead? Would that be an illegal impairment of contract? Can the city force us to rent in a way that makes us lose our homestead? i don’t understand how the city can take our rights to rent our own units.

    • says

      Hi Chris. I asked Dr. David Goldenberg, author of Creating Homeowner & Condo Association Documents to respond to your question. His reply:

      “This is a legal question and I’m not an attorney. However, I suspect that such a law could be: 1. successfully challenged by established owners acting renting for short periods if their governing allow such, 2. enforced against new owners in new condominiums, and 3. perhaps enforced against new owners in established condominiums. Essentially the city is changing its zoning rules. Of course, there are vast differences between proposing such a law, enacting it, trying to enforce it, and having it stand up in courts of appeal.”

  8. Lynn Zettler says

    Our Florida condo association board is trying to charge access fees ($100 per event up to $1000) to those owners who rent unless their rental company has an agreement with the association to give them compensation. This is not in our bylaws at all and this was never a requirement previously. Can they do this without amending the bylaws?

  9. roselle says

    I LIVED W/MY FIANCEE OF 11 YEARS. HIS HOUSE WENT INTO FORECLOSURE, HE MOVED ME INTO HIS FATHERS CONDO. 6 MONTHS LATER,(NOW) HE WALKED OUT.THIS IS MY LEGAL RESIDENCE.THEY WANT ME & MY TWINS TO LEAVE. THE LANDLORD (FATHER) HAS OFFERED ME THE $$ IT WOULD TAKE 4 A LAWYER TO EVICT ME. I NEVER PD RENT, WE LIVED AS HUSBAND & WIFE. I HAVE CANCER & OTHER HEALTH ISSUES. WHAT R MY RIGHTS 2 STAY ????? WE HAVE NO $$ AND NO WHERE TO GO. THANX PLZ HELP

  10. Linda G Tchet says

    I live in a condo in South FL. My question is can the board determine the roofs all need to be replaced without the vote of the community, especially when the roofs all don’t need to be replaced? A proposal has been made by the board with a roofing company for $250,000 to replace all of the roofs with an $83 a month special assessment for all unit owners to pay toward the $250,000.

    We were given close to this amount of money after Hurricane Wilma by the condo assoc insurance company. Some of this money was used to repair the roofs but not to replace them. If the board will be replacing the roofs I think the remaining insurance money needs to be put to the replacement of the roofs.

    The bottom line to this issue is can the board vote amongst themselves to replace the roofs without the vote of the unit owners?

    Thank you in advance for your reply!

    • says

      Hi Linda,

      According to our condo documents expert Dr. David Goldenberg, the short answer is Yes, generally the board of a Florida can act without consulting the owners in such matters. A duly elected board of a Florida condominium is responsible for maintaining and/or replacing the building(s), including the roof(s), as well as maintaining the grounds. Such boards usually have the power to do so without consulting the residents and also to levy a special assessment to pay for the work.

      HOWEVER, state law and your community’s governing documents spell out the procedure the board must follow. Check those documents carefully. They may impose limits on the amount that can be spent. They also may require owners to approve the project and/or the special assessment by a majority or super-majority of written votes.

      Hope this helps!

  11. richard oppenheimer says

    Can a HOA fo 1300 homes,require ALL homeowners to purchase and pay for Comcast Cable service, even if the service is not wanted.

    • Dee says

      I too have the same question. Also, if we experience problems with outages etc, the cable company refunds the association. We as homeowners never get it back, yet every year the cable fee increases a dollar.

      • says

        Hi Dee,

        You raise an interesting issue. The consumer suffers the outage – which could affect his/her computer and/or income – while the condo receives reimbursement. Perhaps you could raise it at your next condo meeting and report back to us.

  12. Bill Aguiar says

    Our association decided to upgrade the service for cable, even though the homeowners were not in favor of it. The association voted for it with no regards to the homeowners. I’m only there one month of the year and still have to pay the other eleven months.
    Like to hear more about this subject.

    Bill

    • says

      Hi Bill,

      The Board has a right to take this type of action, irrespective of owner input. However, if there was considerable disagreement, the matter should have first been raised and discussed at a public Board meeting. Owners also have a right to request that an item be put on the Board agenda. Did an unhappy member do so? The Board could have been urged to take a “straw” vote as a determination of interest. The fact that an owner is forced to pay for a service he/she doesn’t use is unfortunate, but not relevant. Owners who never step foot in a condo pool must nevertheless pay for the upkeep.

  13. Mary Martin says

    I am having a lot of trouble with the association. My electric bill is due by the 10th of every month. If it is paid late there is a $10 fee attached, my bill was late I told them I would be paying it by the 22 of April. I received a letter stating my if not paid by the 20th of April I would be turned off! I borrowed the money to pay them so it would not be shut off. I could not pay my maintenance in April (it is due the 10th of April). I explained to the we are on a tight income but would postdate them a check for the 3rd of May. Now I have a letter that states “All of your Park privileges are suspended,” and I must pay by April 28th or my account will be turned over to a lawyer and I will have to pay the money to him plus my $15 late fee plus lawyer fees. I thought you had 30 days to pay a bill before it is delinquent. What can I do about them? They are required to maintain any leaks or water breaks outside the home, I have a bad leak outside at the water spicket. I asked them in February to fix it, The maintenance man capped it off so I can not use my hose, and has not been back since. What are my rights on this can they do all of the things they are doing? HELP!

  14. machelle says

    I recently purchased an new ac unit and was told by the company that I did not require board approval for the wider line I need to run outside the building down from my top floor condo to the ground and attach to the ac unit. The company did cover the line with an aluminum covering. The need for the wider line was due to the January 2010 law which bans a referent and promotes a more energy efficient system. I was also told that energy efficient systems are required by law and therfore override condo docs and would not require board approval.

    please advise, thanks

    • says

      Condo docs take precedence over whatever a company might tell you to make a sale. Did you ask the condo’s permission in writing before making the purchase? Can the company point to specific legislation or a government ruling that you can share with your board? Is the company willing to put it in writing – with facts to back it up? That’s the best place to start.

  15. jane haskell says

    My association wants to pressure wash our inside “courtyard” walls and then re-paint them. My courtyard is caged. I have many flowers and plants and a palm there. They us chloride and say that they will try to cover the plants, even though some of mine (jasmine) are on the wall itself. Are they required to replace them if they kill them? I spent alot of money for the landscaping and I don’t want them replaced because they are at the size that I want. Do I have the right to refuse to have them come in and do this pressure washing? Can I have someone else that I trust more to do it at my expense?

    • says

      Hi Jane,

      Our expert on homeowner documents, Dr. David Goldenberg, offered the following reply. You can find his latest book on homeowner association documents here.

      It is it all depends on how your documents define “an inside courtyard.” If, for instance, you have a Roman-style apartment which surrounded an atrium [a courtyard open to the sky] which was sold as part of your residence and was designed for the exclusive use of the owner(s) and residents of that lair, then the board has no right to meddle. If, however, “your courtyard” actually is common ground, then … Why not check your deed and governing documents? While you’re at it, consider raising your questions at the next board meeting. Regardless of who owns/controls the courtyard, the firm power washing it normally is held responsible for replacing anything they damage, flowers, flower pots, trees, and structural elements such as benches, walls, etc.”

  16. Marci Simpson says

    Is it legal for my condo association to require a renter to give out his social security number for a background check. The renter is willing to provide all necessary info and documents for a background check and a copy of a current credit check and to pay all the rent up front. He has been told he can’t rent unless he provides his social security number.

    • says

      Hi Marci,

      The Board and/or documents can demand it, but that doesn’t make it legal. There may be a Federal law covering this issue. The easiest way to find out is to phone the Attorney General’s Office in your state and ask. You can also insist that the Board request a letter from its attorney – at their expense – stating that it’s both mandatory and legal. Hope this helps.

  17. scott schulman says

    I am a condo owner and use my condo or rent it out from Dec.-Mar. (snowbird). Most of the owners in the building do the same. The board (all of whom live full time in the building) voted to start 6 months of construction on the balconies on Jan 1st 2011. Against the wishes of all the “snowbirds”. There was no good reason not to wait till April. Many of us have already made planes reservations, have tenants lined up etc. and today Sept 24 2009 they decide to do elective work. What recourse do I have?

    • says

      Hi Scott, I asked our resident condo documents expert, Dr. David Goldenberg, to respond to your question. Dr. Goldenberg writes: “Doubt that there’s any assured or automatic recourse IF a duly elected majority of the board voted on the matter. If there’s any recourse, s/he will find that it’s buried in the governing documents as some obscure point of parliamentary procedure. One possibility is to bring the issue up again at the next board meeting, perhaps by written petition, to see if the construction could be deferred, especially if the snowbirds are in the majority. It might be too late if the contract has a penalty clause for delays. Recalling the board, replacing it and then revising the construction contract is another possibility. One might try assembling a group snowbirds to sue the board for loss of income but that’s a slow, expensive and touchy alternative. Otherwise, don’t waste your time complaining because it won’t do any good and might make things worse.”

  18. Melinda says

    Due to bad structural design, our condo received damage over a period of many years when water pooled & leaked through a flat roof in our private courtyard area. The damage extended to the entire front wall of our condo, and is going to require very extensive repair work. The roof situation was corrected, but the damaged wood, etc. remains. In addition, around two years ago, the maintenance worker employed by the association removed an a/c drain while painting the exterior of our condo, and the a/c leaked into our foyer area, causing damage to 2+ sheets of drywall. Neither of these repairs has been addressed, yet we are paying almost $250/mo in maintenance fees AND are preparing to pay another special assessment for insurance (for the second time since the damage) to the tune of $800. We are beyond frustrated- even found a snake that got into our foyer because of the rotting wood. My question is, do we have any recourse? This is ridiculous, and I have a hard time paying all of these hundreds of dollars to my association when they have done nothing toward my situation- some of which was directly caused by an error of their employee. Thanks!

  19. bill cook says

    We cannot form a home owners association until 80% of the units have been sold. We have requested monthly expense statements and a copy of their tax return. They will not give us this information and have increased maintenance from $150.00 to $225.00 per month. What can we do?

    • says

      bill cook » Hi Bill, My colleague Dr. David Goldenberg responds: Ask an attorney specializing in defending homeowners. It would help to first find or buy a copy of the documents given when buying their home in the future HOA. Those will say when a HOA can be formed and how many homes have to be sold first. Those documents also will indicate who runs the show until a HOA can be formed and what rules guide that organization. Usually the developer appoints the team which controls the facility until most of the potential homes are built and sold and the rules always favor its decisions. HOWEVER, there are limits and the developer or its appointees can change the rules applying to it if they can be persuaded to do so. Your state law could require the developer or its board to report financial data regularly to the homeowners and the state, and to give advance notice of proposed changes in maintenance fees. Ask an attorney residing in your state. Hope this helps!

  20. Jan Bolinger says

    Is there any way to effectively vote without a “double blind” proxy ballot? Has electronice (Email) voting been approved in Florida for condo voting?

    Thanks, Janvier Bolinger

    • says

      Jan Bolinger »

      Hi Jim,

      I discussed your case with Dr. David Goldenberg, author of Creating Homeowners Association Documents and our special report, How to Recall Your Homeowners Association Board.

      He states:

      Proxy ballots are allowed in some Florida elections [either local or state or national elections and some HOA and Condo situations] and not others. It depends on the relevant law(s) and governing documents. There may be restrictions on a proxy. It may, for example, only be valid for a specific election or period of time or with respect to a particular issue. The authorizing signature may have to have been notarized. The proxy may have to appear on an official form. Etc. Essentially the same comments apply to electronic voting. The problems here are validating the source [that is, who really submitted the e-mail?] and preventing/detecting multiple votes in the same person’s name.

      Hope this helps! We provide affordable homeowners association consultations at StarrPublications.com.

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