RESOURCES

The Condominium Association


Official Records

1. What items are considered official records of the association?
2. Can the board charge me a set or flat fee for copies of official records that I have requested?
3. My association is involved in a lawsuit and has spent a considerable sum of money on legal fees. Unit owners have asked the board to allow them to review the records, but the board says they do not have the right to see such records. Is this true?
4. Do I have the right as a unit owner to obtain the names and addresses of all other unit owners in my condominium?
5. What can I do if the association refuses to allow me to inspect official records of the association?
6. Are there any records of the association that should not be accessible to unit owners?
7. Where do the official records of the association have to be maintained?
8. Am I entitled to a copy of our association’s previous budgets?

Right of Access

9. Does the law require me to give the association a key to my unit?
10. Does the association have the right to allow a pest control company access to my unit?
11. Does the board have the right to enter a unit in order to make sure that the hurricane shutters are properly secured?

Management of the Association

12. Can the unit owners stop the board from hiring a management company?
13. What law requires a condominium association to hire a licensed property manager?
14. Can an association self-manage or do they need to hire a manager?
15. May the association pay a board member for his or her services as a board member?

Rules and Regulations/Violations/Fines

16. I sent a letter to the board asking it to force an adjacent unit owner to abide by association rules governing the appearance of limited common elements. The board failed to respond to my letter and refuses to take my telephone calls. What can I do?
17. How much can a board fine a unit owner for a condominium rule violation?
18. Is there a procedure that an association must follow when an owner appeals a fine?
19. Can a fine become a lien?

Condominium Documents/Amendments

20. How does an association amend its bylaws?
21. When does an amendment to the bylaws become effective?

Leasing/ Rentals

22. Can the association charge me $100 to lease a unit?
23. As a renter, do I have the same rights in using the common elements as a unit owner?
24. Can the board keep me, as a unit owner, from using the common elements if I have rented my unit?

Insurance

25. Must the association pay for and insure its officers and directors?
26. Does an association have to carry insurance on the condominium property?
27. May an association self-insure?
28. If I win a lawsuit against the association, can I recover attorney fees and assessment fees that I paid the association to defend the lawsuit?
29. Does the association have the authority to sue on behalf of the unit owners even if the unit owners aren’t in favor of bringing suit?

Adult Communities/55 & Older Issues

30. How would a condominium go about becoming an adult community (55 or older), and would all the residents under 55 years old have to move out?


1. What items are considered official records of the association? A copy of the plans, permits, and warranties provided by the developer; a photocopy of the recorded declaration and each amendment; a photocopy of the recorded bylaws; a certified copy of the articles of incorporation; a copy of the current rules of the association; minutes of all meetings for the past 7 years; a current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses; current insurance policies; current copy of any management agreements, leases or other contracts; bills of sale; accounting records; records of all receipts and expenditures; a current statement of account for each unit; all financial reporting statements; all contracts for work to be performed; ballots, sign-in sheets, and voting proxies up to one year; all rental records; a copy of the current question and answer sheet; and, all other records relating to the operation of the association.

2. Can the board charge me a set or flat fee for copies of official records that I have requested? Chapters 718 and 719, Florida Statutes, do not provide a flat fee for copies of the official records. However, upon inspecting the records of the association, a unit owner may obtain copies, at a reasonable expense, if any, of the association member. Further, a condominium association may charge its actual costs for preparing and furnishing copies of the declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and amendments to the foregoing.

3. My association is involved in a lawsuit and has spent a considerable sum of money on legal fees. Unit owners have asked the board to allow them to review the records, but the board says they do not have the right to see such records. Is this true? The records of the association shall be made available to a unit owner within 5 working days after receipt of written request by the board or its designee. However, unit owners shall not have access to a record that was prepared by an association attorney or prepared at the attorney’s express direction which reflects a mental impression, conclusion, litigation strategy, or legal theory that was prepared exclusively for civil or criminal litigation until the conclusion of the case.

4. Do I have the right as a unit owner to obtain the names and addresses of all other unit owners in my condominium? The association is required to maintain a current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses, unit identifications, voting certifications, and, if known, telephone numbers, within the official records of the association. The records of the association shall be made available to a unit owner within 5 working days after receipt of written request by the board or its designee. The right to inspect the records includes the right to make or obtain copies, at the reasonable expense, if any, of the association member.

5. What can I do if the association refuses to allow me to inspect official records of the association? The records of the association shall be made available to a unit owner within 5 working days after receipt of written request by the board or its designee. If the association fails to properly allow access to the records, a complaint may be filed with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. The following remedy is provided through condominium arbitration as provided in Section 718.1255, Florida Statutes, and the courts. The failure of an association to provide the records within 10 working days after receipt of a written request shall create the presumption that the association willfully failed to comply. A unit owner who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damage or minimum damages. The minimum damages shall be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days with the calculation beginning on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request. Furthermore, the failure of the association to permit inspection of the association records entitles any person prevailing in an enforcement action to recover reasonable attorney's fees from the person in control of the records who, directly or indirectly, knowingly denied access to the records for inspection. If an owner seeks to collect statutory damages from the association, the dispute should be filed for mandatory arbitration under Section 718.1255, Florida Statutes. An appeal to the courts may follow the arbitration proceeding.

6. Are there any records of the association that should not be accessible to unit owners? Unit owners shall not have access to a record that was; 1), prepared by an association attorney or prepared at the attorney’s express direction which reflects a mental impression, conclusion, litigation strategy or legal theory that was prepared exclusively for civil or criminal litigation until the conclusion of the case; 2) information obtained in connection with the approval of the lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit; and 3), medical records of unit owners.

7. Where do the official records of the association have to be maintained? The official records of the association shall be maintained within the state. The association may comply by having a copy of the official records of the association available for inspection or copying on the condominium property or association property.

8. Am I entitled to a copy of our association’s previous budgets? The association shall maintain accounting records for the association for at least seven years. Further, the official records of the association shall be made available to a unit owner within five working days after the receipt of a written request by the board or its designee. The right to inspect the records includes the right to make or obtain copies, at the reasonable expense, if any, of the association member.

9. Does the law require me to give the association a key to my unit? Chapters 718 and 719, Florida Statutes, do not specifically address the issue of providing keys to the association. However, the association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours when necessary for the maintenance, repair, or replacement of any common elements or of any portion of a unit to be maintained by the association or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit. One may review the documents of the association for clarification.

10. Does the association have the right to allow a pest control company access to my unit? Chapters 718 and 719, Florida Statutes, do not specifically address access to units by the association for pest control. However, the condominium association has the responsibility for the maintenance of the common elements. Condominium and cooperative associations expend assessment funds for the operation, maintenance and protection of the common elements or cooperative property. One may review the documents of the association for further clarification.

11. Does the board have the right to enter a unit in order to make sure that the hurricane shutters are properly secured? The condominium board may operate hurricane shutters without the permission of the unit owner only where such operation is necessary to preserve and protect the condominium property. Further, the condominium or cooperative association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours, when necessary for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of any common elements or of any portion of a unit to be maintained by the association pursuant to the declaration, or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit or units.

12. Can the unit owners stop the board from hiring a management company? The bylaws or other association documents shall specify the powers and duties of officers and board members. One may review the documents to determine whether the unit owners or the board may approve hiring management. Chapters 718 and 719, Florida Statutes, do not require the association to hire a manager. However, the Florida Administrative Code, states that if a condominium board of directors chooses to employ a manager, it shall only employ a licensed community association manager where licensure is required by Section 468.431, Florida Statutes.

13. What law requires a condominium association to hire a licensed property manager? Chapters 718 and 719, Florida Statutes, do not require the association to hire a manager. However, the Florida Administrative Code, states that if a condominium board of directors chooses to employ a manager, it shall only employ a licensed community association manager where licensure is required by Section 468.431, Florida Statutes.

14. Can an association self-manage or do they need to hire a manager? Many associations choose to contract with an outside individual or managing entity, however the Condominium Act does not require any condominium association to do so. The association may be self-managed if it so chooses. If an association decides to hire a manager to assist the board of directors, the manager may be required to be licensed as a Community Association Manager (CAM) under Part VIII, Chapter 468, Florida Statutes.

15. May the association pay a board member for his or her services as a board member? Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws of the association, the members of the board shall serve without compensation. However, if compensated, a board member may require licensure as a community association manager pursuant to Chapter 468, Florida Statutes.

16. I sent a letter to the board asking it to force an adjacent unit owner to abide by association rules governing the appearance of limited common elements. The board failed to respond to my letter and refuses to take my telephone calls. What can I do? When a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. If a person feels a violation of Chapters 718 or 719, Florida Statutes, may have occurred, they may file a complaint with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.

17. How much can a board fine a unit owner for a condominium rule violation? If the declaration or bylaws so provide, the association may levy reasonable fines against a unit for the failure to comply with any provision of the association documents. No fine may exceed $100 per violation. However, a fine may be levied on the basis of each day of a continuing violation provided that no such fine shall in the aggregate exceed $1,000.

18. Is there a procedure that an association must follow when an owner appeals a fine? A fine can not be levied except after the association has provided the unit owner with reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing before a committee of other owners. If the committee does not agree with the fine, the fine may not be levied.

19. Can a fine become a lien? If the declaration or bylaws so provide, the association may levy reasonable fines against a unit for the failure to comply with any provision of the declaration or association bylaws or reasonable rules of the association. However, no fine may become a lien against a unit.

20. How does an association amend its bylaws? The method used to amend the bylaws should be located within the bylaws of the association and should be consistent with the provisions of Chapter 718 or 719, Florida Statutes. If the bylaws fail to provide a method of amendment, the bylaws may be amended, if the amendment is approved by the owners of not less than two-thirds of the voting interests. The full text of the bylaws to be amended must be included with new words underlined and words to be deleted stricken through with hyphens. If the change is too extensive and would hinder, rather than assist, the understanding of the proposed amendment, it is not necessary to use underlining and hyphens as indicators of words added or deleted, but, instead, a notation must be inserted immediately preceding the proposed amendment in substantially the following language: "Substantial rewording of bylaw.

21. When does an amendment to the bylaws become effective? Amendments to condominium bylaws become effective when they are recorded in the public records of the county where the declaration of condominium is recorded.

22. Can the association charge me $100 to lease a unit? This type of charge is generally referred to as a transfer fee. If an association is required by its documents to approve the transfer (sale, mortgage, lease, etc.) of a unit, the association may charge a fee, if a fee is provided for in the association documents. The maximum charge allowable is $100 per applicant, and no charge may be made on renewals with the same lessee or sublessee.

23. As a renter, do I have the same rights in using the common elements as a unit owner? When a unit is leased, the tenant shall have all use rights of the association property and common elements that otherwise would be available for use by unit owners. The association may adopt rules to prohibit duel usage by the unit owner and the tenant.

24. Can the board keep me, as a unit owner, from using the common elements if I have rented my unit? When a unit is leased, the tenant shall have all of the use rights of the association property and common elements that are available for use generally by unit owners. Under such circumstances, the unit owner shall not have such rights except as a guest, unless the tenant waives such rights in writing. The association shall have the right to adopt rules to prohibit dual usage by a unit owner and a tenant of association property and common elements.

25. Must the association pay for and insure its officers and directors? A unit owner controlled association may obtain liability insurance for its officers and directors. Further, the association shall obtain and maintain adequate insurance or fidelity bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the association and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. This insurance is a common expense of the association.

26. Does an association have to carry insurance on the condominium property? A unit-owner controlled association must use its best efforts to obtain and maintain adequate insurance to protect the association, the association property and the common elements. Additional insurance may be required by the association documents and the statutes.

27. May an association self-insure? An association may self-insure against claims against the association, the association property, and the condominium property if compliance is followed according to sections 624.460-624.488, F.S.

28. If I win a lawsuit against the association, can I recover attorney fees and assessment fees that I paid the association to defend the lawsuit? A unit owner prevailing in an action between the association and the unit owner, in addition to recovering his reasonable attorney's fees, may recover additional amounts as determined by the court to be necessary to reimburse the unit owner for his share of assessments levied by the association to fund its litigation expenses.

29. Does the association have the authority to sue on behalf of the unit owners even if the unit owners aren’t in favor of bringing suit? The condominium association may contract, sue, or be sued with respect to the exercise or non-exercise of its powers. The condominium association may institute, maintain, settle, or appeal actions or hearings in its name on behalf of all unit owners concerning matters of common interest to most or all unit owners. The cooperative association’s powers and duties include those provided in Chapter 719, Florida Statutes, and the articles of incorporation and bylaws and Chapters 607 and 617, Florida Statutes, as applicable.

30. How would a condominium go about becoming an adult community (55 or older), and would all the residents under 55 years old have to move out? A property must meet certain requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act to be designated as an adult community. The Florida Commission on Human Relations administers the Federal Fair Housing Act in Florida. You may contact the Florida Commission on Human Relations at: Post Office Box 3388, Tallahassee, Florida 32315-3388 or 850 488-7082 (ask for the housing area), or on the Internet at: http://fchr.state.fl.us. For copies of the Federal Fair Housing Act you may call 800-767-7468.

The above information is from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation and represents general legal advice. Since the law is continually changing, some provisions may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case. Please Contact Us by using the Quick Contact form, calling us at (904) 823-3333 or (386) 366-4848, or by email at info@jacksonlawgroup.com.