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Rule changes up to owners

Question: Our declaration of condominium states that the board of directors has the power to make and amend reasonable rules respecting the use of the property in the condominium _ provided, however, that all such regulations and amendments shall be approved by not less than 75 percent of the votes of the entire membership.

The board of directors, without the approval of the unit owners, changed the rule with regard to the renting of apartments. Instead of being able to rent once in a 12-month period, the new rule adopted by the board restricts rentals to once every two years and for not less than three months nor more than one year.

The board has taken the position that it has inherent authority to amend the rule without the approval of the unit owners. What say you? _ L. K.

Answer: Florida's 4th District Court of Appeals, in Koplowitz vs. Imperial Towers Condominium (478 So.2d 504), rejected the board's argument and held that the phrase "use of property" encompassed rentals. And the court ruled that the amendment was invalid since it did not receive approval of 75 percent of the unit owners.

Absence rulings

Question: I read with considerable interest your discussion of the ruling by Judge William M. Hoeveler in the case of Mavrakis vs. Playa Del Sol Condominium concerning restrictions placed on unit owners for the use of their apartments during their absence.

Would you please inform me if Judge Hoeveler's decision would apply if the restrictions were incorporated into the declaration of condominium rather than being only a rule of the directors? _ J. B.

Answer: In the Mavrakis case, the board of directors of the Playa Del Sol condominium passed a rule that prevented members of an owner's immediate family from occupying an apartment for more than 30 days in any 12-month period in the owner's absence. It also prohibited members of the family from having overnight guests in the owner's absence.

Although Judge Hoeveler wrote that the rules in question "are unreasonable means of promoting the health, happiness and peace of mind of the majority of the unit owners," he nevertheless said that such restrictions may be imposed through amendment of the declaration of condominium.

Parking dilemma

Question: Our board of directors recently passed a rule prohibiting the parking of commercial vehicles on condo property without its consent and permission. I have lived in this condo for the past three years and I just received a letter from the board to remove my panel truck from the premises.

I asked for a hearing and explained my circumstances, but the board's decision was negative.

This condo consists of 1,078 units in six buildings and I have not heard any complaints except from people who always complain about everything. I would appreciate your thoughts. _ J. E.

Answer: A parking area is part of the common elements and as such, the board of directors has the power to make rules governing the use thereof.

In Hidden Harbour Estates Inc. vs. Basso (303 So.2d 637), the 4th District Court of Appeals laid down the law concerning use restrictions imposed by the board of directors of a condominium. The court there held that where a particular use rests within the discretion of the board, it cannot arbitrarily withhold its consent "unless the use is demonstrably antagonistic to the legitimate objectives of the condominium association "

The Hidden Harbour case involved a mobile home condominium development where the board refused to grant the Bassos permission to drill a well on their property. The Bassos then drilled without permission. In an action by the association to compel removal of the well, the court ruled in favor of the Bassos, stating "Hidden Harbour failed to demonstrate a reasonable relationship between its denial of the Bassos' application and the objectives which the denial sought to achieve."

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