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Florida Condominium Cases

Below is a list of Florida case law, we use to prosecute Florida condominium cases related to condo Boards acting outside of their scope of authority and/or condo Association’s failure to maintain the common elements.

1.Small v. Devon Condominium B Ass’n, Inc., Nos. 4D10-2302, 4D10-5243, 4D11-247 and 4D11-4119 (Fla. 4th DCA April 2, 2014)

A condominium association sued a unit owner due to her refusal to permit the association to enter her unit to perform pest-control services. The association asserted that it had the right to enter the unit to perform necessary maintenance due to the provisions of Fla. Stat. § 718.111(5) and the declaration of condominium. The Fourth DCA applied the two-prong test (described in paragraph 7) and found there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the reasonableness of the association’s actions, due to the owner’s health condition and the lack of a pest problem.

2.Cali v. Meadowbrook Lakes View Condo. Ass’n “B” Inc., 59 So.3d 363 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)

                   The plaintiff unit owner sued the condominium association for damages to his property, caused by plumbing pipe leakage. The plaintiff alleged that these pipes were part of the common elements the defendant was responsible for maintaining. A combined reading of Fla. Stat. Chapter 718 and the subject declaration of condominium indicated that the defective pipes could be included within the common elements. The Fourth DCA held that there was a genuine question of fact as to whether the pipes were part of the common elements, and thus reversed the trial court’s entry of partial summary judgment for the association.

3.Hollywood Towers Condo. Ass’n v. Hampton, 40 So.3d 784 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)

The plaintiff condominium association sought a permanent injunction granting it access to defendant unit owner’s property to make repairs to the balcony. The Fourth DCA reversed the trial court and granted the injunction, focusing not on whether the repairs were necessary, but on the association’s authority to maintain the common elements and deference to the business judgment rule. The association had the contractual and statutory authority to make the repairs, and its decision to do so was reasonable, satisfying both prongs of the business judgment rule test.    

4.Curci Village Condominium Assn. v. Maria, 14 So.3d 1175 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)

A condominium unit owner made improvements to her property, claiming that she had obtained the approval of the association president. However, the association later notified the owner that her alterations were causing flooding on the property and were violative of the declaration of condominium. The owner sought declarative relief against the association and obtained summary judgment on same. However, the Fourth DCA reversed, holding that the declaration of condominum must be construed strictly and the owner was required to obtain written permission from the board.

5.Circle Villas Condo. v. Circle Prop. Owners, 957 So.2d 1207 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007)

A condominium association (“COA”) filed suit against a homeowners association (“HOA”), alleging that the HOA had failed to maintain the common areas and recreational parcel, allowing “same to fall into a state of disrepair.” The trial court dismissed the complaint, and the COA appealed. The Fourth DCA held that the trial court had erred, finding that the COA had the authority to sue the HOA. Contrary to the trial court’s findings, the declaration did not restrict the COA’s rights to sue the HOA. Further, the trial court had improperly imposed the requirements of Fla. Stat. § 720.311 against the COA.

6.Carlandia Corp. v. Obernauer, 695 So.2d 408 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997)

A unit owner sued a condominium association and board members, alleging that construction defects existed in the common areas and that the defendants had breached their duties under the warranty provisions of the Condominium Act. The trial court had dismissed the complaint, holding the plaintiffs were required to submit to non-binding arbitration as required by Fla. Stat. § 718.1255(4)(a). However, the Fourth DCA held that a dispute which focuses on the enforcement of a warranty is not subject to the arbitration requirement, and reversed the dismissal of the complaint.

7.Lambert v. Berkley South Condominium Ass'n, Inc., 680 So.2d 588 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996)

In a breach of contract action between a condominium association and a unit owner, the association cross-appealed the trial court’s decision finding that a hallway was part of the common elements and therefore the association’s responsibility to maintain. The Fourth DCA held that “the trial court improperly considered parol evidence in determining that the hallway had been converted to a common element.” Under a collective reading of the governing documents, the hallway was owned collectively by the commercial unit owners, and therefore these owners were responsible for its maintenance and related costs.

8.Ocean Trail Unit Owners Ass’n, Inc. v. Mead, 650 So.2d 4 (Fla. 1994)

The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the certified question of whether a condominium association may impose special assessments against unit owners to pay the association’s legal fees, when the association has been sued by the owners for unauthorized purchases of real property. The supreme court answered this question in the affirmative, further holding that it was necessary for the association to impose these assessments to “protect the Association’s common properties and facilities from execution and levy.” The assessments were therefore an authorized common expense.

9.Mohnani v. La Cancha Condominium Ass’n, Inc., 590 So.2d 36 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991)

The condominium board enacted a rule restricting a unit owner’s right to lease his unit until two years after the date he obtained ownership of the property. However, this rule was in contravention of the declaration of condominium, which provided that a unit owner could begin leasing his unit after 30 days, with the board’s approval. Since the rule violated unit owners’ rights as provided by the declaration, the board exceeded the scope of its authority and the rental rule was invalid.

10.Buddin v. Golden Bay Manor, Inc., 585 So.2d 435 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991)

A cooperative association board notified a unit lessee that she would no longer be permitted to sublet her unit, and setting a termination date for the current sublease. However, the association by-laws required the board to review lease applications, and stated that the board must not pass rules which are inconsistent with the by-laws. Furthermore, the community proprietary lease provided that lessees may sublet their units after obtaining approval of 51% plus one of the community stockholders or directors. The Fourth DCA found that under the governing documents, the board did not have the right to prohibit subleasing.

11.Rothenberg v. Plymouth No. 5 Condominium Ass'n, 511 So.2d 651, 12 Fla. L. Weekly 1848 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987)

A condominium association imposed an assessment against all unit owners to pay for bus services provided to the community. Several unit owners refused to pay these assessments, the association placed liens against their units for non-payment, and ultimately foreclosed on these liens. However, the Fourth DCA held that under the Condominium Act, unit owners “may only be assessed for common expenses which are properly incurred by the association for the condominium.” The court further ruled that the bus service was not part of the condominium property or recreational facilities, and therefore not the proper subject of an assessment.

12.Gordon v. Palm Aire Country Club Condominium Ass'n No. 9, Inc., 497 So.2d 1284 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986)

A condominium association obtained an injunction against unit owners which required them to remove their dog from the unit. The unit owners contended that the board enacted a blanket rule against pets and that the board did not consider the specifics of the owners’ request. While the Fourth DCA noted that a condominium board may not improperly amend declaration rules, it held that the board had considered the owners’ request on the merits and had not enacted an improper blanket rule.  

13.Koplowitz v. Imperial Towers Condominium, Inc., 478 So.2d 504 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985)

The condominium board enacted an amendment to the association’s rental rule without obtaining approval of 75% of the entire association membership, as provided by the articles of incorporation. The Fourth DCA applied the two-prong analysis (described in paragraph 7) to determine the validity of the board’s action. The rental rule violated the declaration of condominium by failing to obtain approval from 75% of the association members, as the declaration states that the board derives its rule-making authority from the articles of incorporation and by-laws.

14.Beachwood Villas Condominium v. Poor, 448 So.2d 1143 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984)

The condominium board of directors enacted two rules “to regulate unit rentals and the occupancy of units by guests during the owner’s absence.” In determining the validity of rules enacted by a condominium board, a court must decide whether first, the board had authority for its action and second, whether the board’s action was arbitrary and capricious. The Fourth DCA found that the board’s rules did not violate the declaration of condominium or interfere with rights contained therein. The board’s rules were therefore within the scope of its authority and valid.

15.Lyons v. King, 397 So.2d 964 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981)

The prospective purchasers of a condominium unit were not approved by the association, and thus sued both the sellers and the association. The purchasers asserted that the association imposed “an unreasonable and arbitrary restraint on the alienation of property.” The plaintiffs admitted that the restrictions under the governing condominium documents were reasonable, but that they had been arbitrarily applied. As to whether the association’s actions had been arbitrary and capricious, the Fourth DCA held that this was a factual determination which had been thoroughly decided at trial. The court upheld the judgment in favor of the association.

16.Hidden Harbour Estates, Inc. v. Basso, 393 So.2d 637 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981)

Condominium unit owners applied for permission from the association to dig a shallow well on their property. Permission was denied, but the owners drilled a well anyway. The association sought injunctive relief, asserting that the owners had violated the declaration of condominium’s use restrictions. However, the use restriction had been created by the board of directors and was therefore subject to a reasonableness standard. The Fourth DCA found that the board had failed to demonstrate that the well would interfere with the board’s objectives to protect “the health, happiness and peace of mind of the individual unit owners.”

17.Janke v. Corinthian Gardens, Inc., 405 So.2d 740 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 1981)

The plaintiff was visiting a condominium unit owner when he sustained injuries from falling on the wet condominium garage roof parking deck. He then sued the condominium association, alleging that it had failed to properly maintain the parking deck. None of the parties disputed that the association was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the deck. However, the Fourth DCA upheld the jury’s factual findings that the “deck covering was not slippery and performed reasonably well in various scientific tests and comparisons.” The court therefore affirmed the judgment in favor of the association.

18.Fountains of Palm Beach Condominium, Inc. No. 5 v. Farkas, 355 So.2d 163 (Fla. 4th DCA 1978)

A condominium unit owner had built a patio on the common elements without obtaining permission from the association. The association then sought injunctive relief to require the owner to remove the patio from the common elements at her own expense. The Fourth DCA noted that the declaration of condominium prohibited unit owners from making structural alterations to their units or to the common elements, and that declarations are to be construed strictly. The court therefore reversed the trial order dismissing the association’s complaint and denying its request for injunctive relief.

19.Trafalgar Towers Ass’n No. 2, Inc. v. Zimet, 314 So.2d 595 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975)

Plaintiff unit owners sued the condominium association, challenging its decision to purchase one of its own units and then impose assessments for the purchase against unit owners. The association had purchased the unit as a residence for its chief engineer and superintendent. The Fourth DCA declared that the association’s purchase was authorized, in light of its duties to maintain the common elements and the associated costs. The association had the right to hire a resident manager to maintain the common elements and the special assessment to support the unit purchase as housing for the manager was proper.  

20.Vinik v. Taylor, 270 So.2d 413 (Fla. 4th DCA 1972)

The plaintiff unit owners wanted to enclose their balconies and sought permission from the condominium board of directors to do so. Other unit owners objected and sought an injunction to prevent the balcony alterations, claiming that such changes would impact the overall appearance of the building. The salient issue, according to the Fourth DCA, was whether the balconies were part of the common elements. Both the appellate and trial courts decided this issue in the negative, relying on the controlling declaration of condominium defining the balconies as part of the units.

 

Please note, case law is always changing and, therefore, these cases should not be relied upon in any real estate dispute.  The cases are for illustrative purposes only. We urge you to consult and/or hire an experienced real estate lawyer as each case is unique.

 

 

Broward County Lawyers

(954) 458-8655