Newsletters

SUMMER 2000 AUGUST

WELCOME ABOARD

While the firm also practices in the areas of commercial litigation and bankruptcy, the majority of the practice is devoted to the representation of condominium associations. This month, our firm is proud to announce the following additions to our growing list of association clientele: Poinciana Pointe, Kendallwood Villas and Oakview 5 in Kendall, Palmetto Gardens North Condominium in Hialeah, Wellington and Cypress Gardens Condominiums in Hollywood, The Esquire House Co-Op in Miami Beach, Third Horizons Condominium in North Miami Beach and Golden Horn Condominium in Hallandale. If we don't say it enough, we can assure you that we appreciate the business and the confidence placed in our firm.

WE'RE ON THE WEB

If you would like to obtain a current profile of the firm, log on to the firm's web address: lawyers.com/condominiumlaw where you can view a biography of the attorneys in the firm, a current list of our condominium clients, a list of published articles by the firm's attorneys, send e-mail, get directions to our office and more.

SATELLITE DISHES

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 made it more difficult for associations to deny a unit owner's right to install satellite dishes and antennas. However, the Act governs only the installation of those devices on individually owned or exclusive-use property. Therefore, the Association can still prohibit the installation of a satellite dish if the unit owner has installed the dish on a common element. In 1997, the Division of Condominiums established that installation of a dish or antenna on a common element constitutes a material change that requires approval of the association membership.

IMPOSING FINES

Frustrated with unit owners or tenants that routinely violate the declaration, by-laws or rules and regulations, many Boards of Directors have sought the ability to impose a monetary fine for such violations. Florida Statute 718.303 allows the association to levy reasonable fines of no more than $1,000 maximum, but only if provided for in the declaration or bylaws. Fines are not liens against the unit, and cannot be levied until there is reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing before persons who are not members of the Board.

COMMON SENSE DEVELOPMENT

The firm was recently hired by a Fort Lauderdale Condominium Association to prevent next door construction of a towering new condominium building. The developer had sought several variances from the city's Board Of Adjustment in order to accomplish the project. However, at the lengthy hearing, the firm and its hired expert proved that other reasonable uses could be made of the property without these variances, and that the developer did not possess a special hardship justifying the variances being granted. The Board therefore voted to deny the developer's request, holding the developer to the strict criteria of the building code.

REJECTING A SALE OF A UNIT

Florida courts have upheld the ability of condominium associations to screen potential purchasers and tenants as a valid means of ensuring the association's ability to control the composition of the condominium as a whole. However, restrictions on a right to transfer will be invalidated when found to violate some external public policy or constitutional right of the individual. If the association has the ability to approve or reject the transfer or lease of a unit, factors that can be considered are: pre-existing violations of the declaration of condominium (i.e. having a pet), credit standing, assets and income, age (if a 55 and over community), and past experiences as a lessee or tenant.

CONDO QUIZ COLUMN

QUESTION: Under what circumstances can the Association enter a unit?

ANSWER: The association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours, when necessary for the maintenance, repair, or replacement of any common elements or of any portion of a unit to be maintained by the association pursuant to the declaration or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit or units.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A QUORUM

Every Board of Directors must be aware that if an association fails to fill vacancies on the board sufficient to constitute a quorum in accordance with the bylaws, any unit owner may apply to the circuit court for the appointment of a receiver to manage the affairs of the association after providing the association with 30 days notice. If a receiver is appointed, the association is responsible for the salary of the receiver, court costs, and attorney's fees. In addition, the Board loses all control as the receiver is granted all the powers and duties of the board and serves until the association fills the vacancies on the board sufficient to constitute a quorum.