Condominium Living

 

 Condominium Living 

If you live in a condominium then you are probably well served by the volunteers on the board who give of their time in what can be a thankless position. Since condo living is booming as giant cranes carry building materials fifteen, twenty, and more stories above street level, more people are interested in knowing what the law is. 

Associations with 150 or more units will have to publish financial reports on a webpage that is accessible to members but not to the general public. Board members will be limited to eight years on the board, but they will be able to continue in office if they win a super-majority of votes, which means they must have done a really great job. Hiring relatives of any of the board members is prohibited and board members will no longer be able to collect a paycheck for cleaning, painting and repairs. 

Board members face much of the same regulations and challenges as do municipal officials. “sunshine regulation” do not apply to condominium associations, but the condominium law states that a “meeting” takes place if a quorum of the board or committee members gather to conduct association business. A 48-hour notice must be posted in a “conspicuous” place before a meeting can be held, or at least 7 days if the notice is delivered by mail. 

An association may not hire an attorney who represents the management company. Neither board members, the manager nor the management company may purchase a unit at a foreclosure sale for unpaid assessments. And the condominium association may not employ any company owned or operated by a board member or anyone who has a relationship with the member be it family or financial. Needless to say, that a board member or manager may not solicit, offer to accept, or accept a kickback from any person who has business with the association. Any officer charged with a crime must be removed from office or may not be elected or appointed to the board. Board members are not to use credit cards issued in the name of the association or which are billed to the association for payment of any association expense. 

Rental policies differ widely. Some “vacation rentals” are available on a daily rate, but most generally condominium associations limit rentals to weekly, monthly, and even limit a unit owner to one rental per year. The is well settled law that allows condominium associations to limit the rental terms and frequency, but owners who acquire title before a change is agreed upon are protected. By statute owners must agree to any change in rental term or frequency; however, if they sell the unit, the new owner is bound by the changes. 

An interesting question is whether the association can set a minimum rental for your unit. One might argue that since owners cannot be forced to comply with new terms and frequency changes that limit their rental potential, setting a minimum rent for the unit should also require consent. F.S. 718.110(13) Any amendment restricting unit owners’ rights relating to the rental of units applies only to unit owners who consent to the amendment and unit owners who purchase their units after the effective date of that amendment. Setting a minimum rental rate by the association would constitute an amendment restricting the unit owner’s freedom to contract with a new tenant and therefore such action would violate Florida law. 

There is no incentive for an owner to rent for less than the market will allow. Yet there is an incentive for those who do not want rentals to fix a rate so high that units will not rent. Furthermore, market forces are continually changing on almost a daily basis. Whatever rate that may be established now, may in the near future be unreasonable based upon changing market conditions. An amendment of the declaration that is a “reasonable” rate for a unit, is a decision that cannot account for future changes in the market. In effect setting a rate today that is theoretically defensible based upon current market conditions may be unreasonable tomorrow when the market changes as it always does. 

Challenges to the minimum rate subjects the condominium association to potential lawsuits where the association would have the burden to prove that the restriction is reasonable. e.g. The “minimum rate” may be unreasonable under conditions that may exist in the future.