When unit is rented, facilities usage rights pass to tenant
Q: Two years ago I purchased a condominium in an adult community as a winter home. I received a security pass for my car and an identification card. Now I'd like to rent my unit. I asked for a new security pass for my new car but was refused because my driver's license listed a different address. I was told that I cannot use the club facilities because I do not live in the unit. If I pay my fees, why can I not use the community facilities?
A: All owners have rights to use condominium facilities — unless you rent your unit. Then the use rights pass to the tenant. In many associations, there are so many spaces to use the common areas and facilities. Florida Statute 718.106 defines the owner's rights to use the common areas and the requirement to pass those rights to a renter.
Gauging the durability of board resolutions
Q: Over the years, our homeowners association, through formal adoption by our boards, has enacted resolutions. We keep them within our book of resolutions. How binding are these for present and future boards?
A: If you are referring to resolutions or motions approved by the boards, not the members, they remain valid until any board removes or changes the resolution. If the members approved the resolution, it remains valid until the members vote to change the resolution. The board does not have the right to create a resolution or motion that is in conflict with the documents or the statutes but can approve resolutions or motions concerning operations or to modify "fundamental" rules and regulations. No board can create a resolution that binds or limits future boards.
Address rule violation by first sending a letter to owner
Q: In our condominium, balconies are considered community property. A resident has enclosed his balcony and I think it violates our restrictions. How do we have this enclosure removed?
A: You need to treat the problem as you would any rule violation. The board must immediately send a letter informing the unit owner of the violation and ask that the structure be removed. The letter must include a reasonable date for the owner to have the enclosure removed. It must include the source for the infraction. Check your documents as to how they source balconies; normally, a balcony is a limited common area. Usually no owner can alter the exterior of their unit and the exterior of the building. If the owner ignores the first letter, the board must send a second, more strongly worded letter. The time for action should be reduced to a week or 10 days. If the owner does not comply, send a third letter. This letter should be short and direct with information that the matter will be turned over to an attorney, again in a week or 10 days. This letter should be sent by certified mail. If the owner refuses to correct the violation, turn the matter over to the association attorney.
Specific rules needed to enforce fines
Q: Our declaration states that the association and its powers include "the power to adopt reasonable rules and regulations for the maintenance and conservation of the condominium property, and for the health, comfort, safety and welfare of the condominium unit owners, all of whom shall be subject to such rules and regulations." Does this clause give the association the right to fine?
A: No. Your documents must specifically address fines. In order to enforce fines, the board must comply with strict statute requirements. There must be an independent committee to review all fines. Failure to follow all statute and document requirements will invalidate the fine. In some cases, you may have collection problems and that will require further legal action.
Bring up plumbing issue for member vote
Q: Every time there is a plumbing repair in our condominium, water is cut off to all units in the building. How can the building inspectors allow all the units to be without water when one unit is being repaired? Why should all units be affected?
A: The reason that you only have one valve to cut off the water is that it is less expensive for the developer when the building is under construction. Subject to the type of building, a single valve can be installed in each unit or in each stack of units in a multistory building. At a members meeting or an annual meeting, put on the agenda a motion to allow the board to seek bids to alter the plumbing to allow new valves to be installed. The members would need to approve the motion for work to go forward.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.