The Remedies Available to Condominium Associations for Rule Violations and the Statutory Process for Enforcement
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When properties within a condominium association are purchased, the purchaser is bound by the association’s governing documents, which can include the declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation, and rules and regulations. When unit owners violate those governing documents, associations have certain remedies available to it under the Florida Condominium Act. Specifically, Section 718.303, Florida Statutes, provides those remedies and also the procedures that associations must follow to enforce them. This Blog post provides an overview of the statutory remedies available to condominium associations, along with the required procedures that associations must follow to ensure they do not violate the Florida Statues while attempting to enforce their own rules and regulations.
An association is able to bring an action for damages and also injunctive relief for failure of a unit owner, any director, any tenant leasing a unit, and any other invitee occupying a unit, to comply with the Florida Condominium Act or the association’s governing documents. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(1)(a)-(e). Once the violation has occurred, an association may levy reasonable fines against the unit owner. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(3). A unit owner can also be fined if his or her guests, licensees or invitees are responsible for a violation. Id. If the violation continues over multiple days, the association can levy a fine based on each day of the continuing violation with a single notice and opportunity for a hearing. Id. However, fines may not exceed $100 per violation, or a total of $1,000, and fines may not become a lien against the unit. Id.
As another available remedy, an association may suspend, for a reasonable period of time, a unit owner’s right to use the common elements, common facilities, or any other association property for violating the association’s governing documents. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(3)(a). The association can even suspend the rights of a unit owner’s guests, tenants, or invitees if they are responsible for the violation. Id. But this remedy does have its limits. An association cannot suspend use rights to the limited common elements used by that unit, the common elements needed to access the unit, utility services to the unit, parking spaces or elevators. Id. A few examples of common elements where access can be restricted include the gym, the pool, tennis courts and the clubhouse.
Associations must be mindful of the fact that they have certain statutory procedures they must follow prior to issuing fines and/or suspensions. For example, the association must first provide at least 14 days’ written notice of the violation to the unit owner. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(3)(b). The association must also provide the unit owner, and if applicable, the unit owner’s tenant, licensee, or invitee with the opportunity for a hearing. Id. That hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons residing in a board member’s household. Id. The committee must approve of the fine or suspension or else it cannot be imposed against the person. Id.
If a unit owner is more than 90-days delinquent in paying a monetary obligation to the association, such as an assessment or fine, the association may suspend the use rights of that unit owner, or the unit’s occupant or tenant, until that monetary obligation is paid in full. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(4). An association may also suspend the voting rights of that unit owner due to the nonpayment of any monetary obligation owed to the association that is more than 90-days past-due. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(5). Additionally, a person whose voting rights are suspended cannot be counted towards establishing a quorum. Id. The notice and hearing requirements, as previously mentioned, do not apply to suspensions imposed on unit owners who are more than 90-days past-due on monetary obligations. See Fla. Stat. § 718.303(4) & (5). However, such suspensions must be approved at a properly noticed board meeting and, upon approval, the association must notify the unit owner, or the tenant, of the suspension by either mail or hand delivery. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(6).