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Pool alteration prompts owner's heated complaint

Question: I live in a condo that has 290 apartments. Now six years after the date the condo opened the board of directors is trying to railroad the heating of the pool at a cost of $16,000 plus.

This is quite an expenditure that does not benefit everyone, only the small minority that use the pool.

Is the board allowed to make such a large expenditure without a vote of approval by a majority of the owners? _ S.


Answer: The Condominium Act of Florida states there shall be no material alteration or substantial additions to the common elements, except in a manner provided in the declaration of condominium.

In my opinion, heating the pool, which requires an expense of $16,000, is a material alteration. If there is no provision in the declaration of condominium for material alterations, none can be made.

This is a very serious problem in many condominiums, and it can and should be solved by placing a cap or limit on the amount of money a board may spend for material alterations or substantial additions. This can be done by amending the declaration to read as follows:

Association shall have the right to make or cause to be made such alterations or improvements to the Common Property which are approved by the Board of Directors and the cost of such alterations and approvements does not exceed $ . Improvements and alterations costing in excess of $ shall not be made without the approval of the membership of the association, evidenced by the affirmative vote of a majority of the unit owners at a meeting duly called for that purpose.

Sweetheart deal

Question: Our condo association is unhappily burdened by a "sweetheart management contract" made by the developer while in control of the association.

The unit owners recently have gained control of the association. How can we get out of that contract? _ O.


Answer: Section 718.302 of the Condominium Act states that a management contract made by the developer of a condominium may be canceled once the unit owners gain control of the association. The cancellation "shall be by the concurrence of the owners of not less than 75 percent of the voting interests other than the voting interests owned by the developer."

Cancellation of the management contract was permitted by the court in the case of Tri-Properties vs. Moonspinner Condominium Association (447 So.2d 765). The court there affirmed the right of the unit owners to cancel a management contract made by the developer without regard to whether there has been any breach or non-performance and without regard as to whether the contract is fair and reasonable. And the Court wrote that the legislature has simply determined that unit owners should be free to reject management contracts previously made by the developer-controlled association.

Harry Wood, a retired lawyer, now is a consultant on condominium management. Address questions to: Harry Wood, Condominiums, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33731. The Florida Department of Business Regulation, Bureau of Condominiums, also handles questions concerning condominium rules and regulations. Phone (904) 488-0725.