Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Home and Garden

Community Living: Documents hold answer on land ownership

Documents hold key to land question

Q: We live in a mobile home cooperative park under FS 719. Our shares are a 99-year lease that lists a home site number. It does not contain any physical description or lot lines. The board says we own no land as it is all common ground. Do I own any land with my lease? Are we not supposed to have an annual meeting independent of the board?

A: You address a title question. There are three types of associations and each has different ownership titles. Condominium title includes ownership of a unit (air space) and an undivided interest of the common areas. Homeowner associations (HOA) title is ownership of a lot and a required membership in an association. The HOA association owns the common area. A typical cooperative is a corporation that owns all the land and individual ownership is evidenced by a share and a proprietary lease. Therefore, cooperative ownership is evidenced by the share and occupancy is evidenced by the lease. Most cooperative owners do not have direct title to land. What they have is a share of the corporation that owns the land and a lease that allows them rights to occupy the land.

The style of property usually has no basis as to title such as a townhome or single-family home as they can fall under any type of association. A cooperative must have an annual meeting at which time they elect the directors for the cooperative. If a member has a problem or question, the annual meeting (also called a members meeting) is not the place to seek solutions unless you write the board of directors in advance of the meeting. To determine how you operate, you need to read your association documents and study your deed or in your situation the proprietary lease and share to determine the type of association you have. You also need to understand the statutes that you fall under. Condominiums fall under FS 718, cooperative under FS 719, HOA under FS 720, and timeshares and rental mobile home communities have their own statutes.

No-smoking plan raises questions

Q: Our condominium is a 55-and-older community. The board sent out a notice to vote at the next members meeting to make the community smoke free. This would include the common areas, unit balconies, and inside the units. I wrote back that I felt that I should be grandfathered because I along with several other owners smoke. They sent me a letter reporting that the association's attorney would provide me with the information, but to this date, I have not received any answer. What are my rights? How would this affect renters?

A: To enforce a rule, the final answer will come from a judge. Attorneys will provide guidance as to enforcement but the final answer can only be provided by a judge in court. It would be my belief, which has little value, that you, renters and other occupants have a right to be grandfathered for the rule change. When you sell or the lease is terminated, future residents would need to comply with the document change.