Many people living in Association communities such as a Condominium or Homeowners Association do not know their rights or even how to find tools that will inform them of their rights. The term this is a runaway train should not be a term used to describe the association board but unfortunately it is something it is sometimes an apt description.
Both Condominiums and Homeowners associations are governed under Florida Statute as well as their governing documents. Chapter 718 of Florida Statutes is known as the Condominium Act. See Fla. Stat. § 718.101, while Chapter 720 of Florida Statutes is known as the Homeowners’ Association Act. See Fla. Stat. § 720.3015. The entities, Condominium or Homeowners Associations are each governed by their respective statutes and the applicable governing documents.
For Homeowners Association the “Declaration of covenants,” or “declaration,” means a recorded written instrument or instruments in the nature of covenants running with the land which subject the land comprising the community to the jurisdiction and control of an association or associations in which the owners of the parcels, or their association representatives, must be members. Fla. Stat. § 720.301(4).
The Condominium Act on the other hand sets clear that the “Declaration” or “declaration of condominium” means the instrument or instruments by which a condominium is created, as they are from time to time amended. Fla. Stat. § 718.103 (15). The term “from time to time amended” oftentimes referred to as the Kaufman Language is at the heart of many a Condo dispute and stems from the 1977 ruling in Kaufman v. Shere, 347 So.2d 627(Fla. 3d DCA 1977).
Oddly many unit owners and members of the Association have never reviewed their Condominium or Homeowners’ Association’s governing documents, partially because of their size (many exceed 70 pages) and others simply do not know how to access the same. The Declaration and related governing documents (usually the Bylaws and Articles) of a Condominium or Homeowners’ Association is a matter of public record and can usually be found on the website of the County Recorder’s Official Records wherein the Association is located, this is usually the County Clerk of the Court.
Condominium and Homeowners Associations are required by law to maintain their official records for inspection and copying. Among other things they are required by law to maintain a photocopy of the declaration, bylaws and each amendment to the bylaws and articles of incorporation.
See Fla. Stat. § 718.111(12) (for Condominiums) and Fla. Stat. § 720.303(4) (for Homeowners Associations). Unit owners of a Condominium and members of the Homeowners Associations have a right to view, inspect and make copies of these documents. The proper procedure must be followed to attain same and not all records are available for inspection and copying.
Per Florida Statute, a member or a unit owner who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association’s willful failure to comply. The minimum damages are to be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th business day after receipt of the written request. See Fla. Stat. § 718.111(12) (for Condominiums) and Fla. Stat. § 720.303(5) (for Homeowners Associations). Knowing where to find the Association’s governing documents may be the first step to resolving an issue in your community.
Contact us to if you are having issues within your Condominium and/or Homeowners Association we will be happy to speak with you.