Florida Condominium Associations
You need to know your rights and duties. Your best defense is to read and understand your association documents (the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants, the Articles of Incorporation, and the Bylaws) and to understand the Florida Statutes governing homeowners associations (Chapter 718 and Chapter 617 or Chapter 607).
- FORECLOSURE — Your association can foreclose on your home for unpaid assessments [Fla. St. Ch. 718.116]
- FINES — Your association can assess a fine against you for non-compliance with the restrictive covenants [Fla. St. Ch. 718.303(3)]
- You have the right to a hearing within a reasonable time
- You have the right to be heard by a committee of at least three (3) people who are unrelated to members of the Board of Directors [Fla. St. Ch. 718.303(3)]
- No fine can become a lien (Fla. St. Ch. 718.303(3)]
- SUSPENSION OF RIGHTS — Your association can suspend your right to vote and rental of your unit if you do not pay your assessments or comply with the restrictive covenants; however, your association cannot impair your right to get to and from your property or your right to park [Fla. St. Ch. 718.116]
- NOTICE — Your association must notify you individually and post a notice in a conspicuous place at least 14 days in advance of the annual meeting and any meeting in which levying assessments will be discussed [Fla. St. Ch. 718.112(1)(e)]
- THE MONEY — The Board of Directors has the discretion to manage and operate the operating budget, including levying assessments to cover the operating costs.
- RESERVES — This is different than the operating budget!!! The Board of Directors cannot move money from one reserve to another nor can they decrease or increase the amount of money in a reserve (except for adjustments for inflation). The Board of Directors cannot spend the money in the reserves for anything other than what the reserve was intended. Changing the reserves in any way requires a majority vote of the homeowners. There is a specific formula for calculating the amount in the reserves.[Fla. St. Ch. 718.112(1)(f)]
- RECORDS — Every homeowner has the right to inspect and copy the records of the association with the exception of those records that are protected by attorney-client privilege, relate to the sale or lease of a parcel, relate to the discipline, health, insurance or personnel records of employees, or relate to the medical records of property owners [Fla. St. Ch. 718.111(12)]
- FIDUCIARY DUTY — The Board of Directors have a fiduciary relationship with the members (property owners) of the association per Fla. St. Ch. 720.303. This means they have a duty to act in the best interests of the community as a whole. Many board members have been told that the Business Judgment Rule protects them from being held accountable for their actions. This is true to a limited extent — they cannot be held responsible for bad decisions; however, they can be held accountable for willingly, wantonly, and knowingly acting in a way that is harmful to the community. [Fla. St. Ch. 718.111(1)]
- COMMON ELEMENTS — Those portions of the condominium property not included in individual units. Effective 1/1/2004 the associations were responsible for insuring everything located on the exterior of the building regardless of what the association documents state [Fla. St. Ch. 718.111(11)]
- EASEMENTS — The association has an easement through units for conduits, ducts, plumbing, wiring and other facilities for the furnishing of utility services to units and common elements [Fla. St. Ch. 718.108(b)]
- RIGHT TO ACCESS — The association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours to maintain, repair or replace any common elements or any portion of a unit that is the responsibility of the association [Fla. St. Ch. 718.111(5)]
- AMENDMENTS TO DOCUMENTS — Unless stated otherwise in the restrictive covenants, the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants requires a vote of 2/3′s of the property owners to pass an amendment. Each document has it’s own requirements for passing an amendment. The Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation should each have a separate provision in the document stating the required number of votes to effectuate an amendment. This is an example of the few times that the association documents will overrule Florida law. [Fla. St. Ch. 718.110(4)] & [Fla. St. Ch. 718.112(h)] It is important to note that if your documents state they can be amended by a vote of 1/3 of the property owners present at a meeting, then this is the rule and note the 2/3′s required in the statutes.
- MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS — There shall be no material alteration or substantial additions to common elements or association property except in the manner provided in the Declarations. If there is no procedure for approval of material alterations or additions provided for in the Declarations, then 75% of the members must approve the alteration or addition. [Fla. St. Ch. 718.111(2)(a)]
- BOARD MEMBERS & DELINQUENT ASSESSMENTS — Any board member who is past due 90 days in the payment of assessments is deemed to have abandoned the office and a vacancy is created as a matter of law. [Fla. St. Ch. 718.112(2)(n)]