Florida Condo Guide

Guide Condo

This Florida Condo Guide features condo stories from current and former members of condo association boards of directors. These stories may have been anonymized and changed to mask the identify of individual condos, associations, and members while still sharing the top condo lessons that condo owners and condo buyers can learn.

Many of the condo guide stories reference Florida Statutes 718 or the relevant association's governing documents. Stories may link to the Condo Basics, Buying Tips, and Owner Tips pages to help the reader understand parts of the condo story.

Condo Basics covers terms that may be unique to condos

Buying tips covers some aspects that may be the most important for condo buyers to consider before making an offer to buy.

Owner tips covers covers some of the common issues that Florida condo owners experience.

Should smaller condos pay the same assessment as larger condos?

Does condo size matter?

With the recent large condo assessment increases, condo owners are trying to find creative ways to lower their share of the costs. One idea that owners of smaller condos consider is for the owners of larger condos to pay a larger portion of the assessment.

This article, Changing Allocation Of Assessments from the Shipp Law Legal Blog, Law Office Ryan S. Shipp, shows that "One area of contention that surfaces between unit owners, is how assessments are allocated between different sized units. Allocation of assessments are set forth in the declaration of condominium."

The article further references Florida Statues 718.110, stating that "Different from the traditional amendment to a condominium declaration, the only way to change how assessments are allocated is for the Association to abide by Florida Statutes 718.110."

Here is what that section showed when this blog post was written, with what appears to be the relevant portion highlighted:

(4)Unless otherwise provided in the declaration as originally recorded, no amendment may change the configuration or size of any unit in any material fashion, materially alter or modify the appurtenances to the unit, or change the proportion or percentage by which the unit owner shares the common expenses of the condominium and owns the common surplus of the condominium unless the record owner of the unit and all record owners of liens on the unit join in the execution of the amendment and unless all the record owners of all other units in the same condominium approve the amendment. The acquisition of property by the association and material alterations or substantial additions to such property or the common elements by the association in accordance with s. 718.111(7) or s. 718.113, and amendments providing for the transfer of use rights in limited common elements pursuant to s. 718.106(2)(b) shall not be deemed to constitute a material alteration or modification of the appurtenances to the units. A declaration recorded after April 1, 1992, may not require the approval of less than a majority of total voting interests of the condominium for amendments under this subsection, unless otherwise required by a governmental entity. You can find the current version of the FS 718.110 statues at leg.state.fl.us

This topic, as most condo association topics dealing with assessments, is a complex legal issue. If you have concerns about whether or how you could change how Florida condo assessments are divided amongst units, you should consult an attorney with experience in these matters.

Businesses Located on Condo Property

It's not uncommon for business owners to operate small businesses from their home. Nor is it unusual for employees to work from home. These activities are even more commonplace with the onset of the Covid pandemic.

Equally, it is not uncommon for condo associations to limit the operation of home-based business within association property. For example, while an owner or an employee may do just about any type of "paper" or "desk" work inside their unit, other types of work or activity are often limited or prohibited.

The following may be prohibited:

  • Retail businesses
  • Walk-in businesses
  • Businesses that invite foot-traffic
  • Noisy businesses or work

Even if not directly prohibited, activity which causes a nuisance may draw the attention of neighbors or the association's board-of-directors.

Business owners who think they can pull a "fast one" expecting no one to notice may find it difficult to explain a Google Business Listing or website that shows their condo address as a business location.

One association has reported that this exact situation ocurred with the condo unit owner denying the operation of a home based business open to the public yet a Google My Business listing showed their condo unit's address as the retail location and their family name as part of the business name. The association's governing documents prohibited any type of business being "advertised" as located at the condominium.

Some condo unit buyers fail to read the governing documents before making an offer or before closing (also known as settlement or act-of-sale). A condo's governing documents will show the association's limitations or prohibitions on the operation of a business or employment work activity.

Prospective Florida condo buyers should, if they don't understand how an association's governing documents impact business or work-at-home activities, engage licensed and reputable attorneys and advisors to guide their buying decision.

Florida condo guide stories blog guide condo

Florida Condo Unit Owner Rights and Responsibilities, Florida Condo Guide

The State of Florida provides a number of rights and responsibilities to owners of Florida condominiums. One source of these rights is the Florida Statutes section 718, which is also known as the Condominium Act.

The Florida Department Of Business And Professional Regulation, through the Division Of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares & Mobile Homes, has published a document titled "Condominium Unit-Owner Rights And Responsibilities", which summarizes the rights and responsibilities of Florida condo unit owners under the Condominium Act.

This Florida condo story involves an association that had recently passed its condo turnover date. The developer's real estate agents no longer staffed the sales office on the property. The developer's construction contractor no longer maintained a daily presence on the property. The property manager contracted by the developer to manage all of its new developments no longer staffed the property's manager office and they discontinued the monthly meetings where owners could share problems about their condo units while enjoying coffee and donuts.

The presence of these developer hired contractors was perceived by some buyers as a service offering of the condominium property that would remain in place forever.

After turnover, some condo unit owners began to ask and even demand that the owner elected board of directors help with:

  • Exceptions to the governing documents as allegedly promised by the developers real estate sales agents
  • Unit construction warranty claims made to the developer some weeks and months in the past
  • Appliance warranty claims
  • Changing smoke detector batteries
  • Additional governmental building construction inspections
  • Adding board responsibilities aboves those required by Florida Statutes

Some unit buyers mistakenly believed that they had obtained the right to these types of services. These unit buyers did not understand the rights and responsibilities of condo unit owners provided by the State of Florida.

Prospective Florida condo buyers should, if they don't understand the rights and responsibilities of condo unit owners, engage licensed and reputable attorneys and advisors to guide their buying decision.

Parking Space "Demand"

Vehicle parking varies from condominium to condominium. Some condos offer covered parking spaces. Others do not. Some offer both. Sometimes the use of a specific parking space is exclusive to one unit. Understanding how governing documents regulate parking spaces may be useful to potential condo buyers.

This Florida condo story takes place at a condominium whose governing documents allow each unit the use of two parking spaces. Most of the units were allocated the exclusive use of one designated covered parking space, as a Limited Common Element, assigned by the developer at the time the original buyer signed their purchase contract. These units were also given the right to use a second parking space in the parking lot on non-exclusive basis.

A few larger and more expensive units were assigned the exclusive use of two designated covered parking spaces. But not the use of non-exclusive spaces in the common area parking lot.

One new owner, shortly after moving into their unit, communicated to the property manager that their assigned garage parking space was "too difficult" to park in. The new owner "demanded" that the association force another unit owner to swap parking spaces with them.

This request seems to imply that the new owner did not understand that the declaration showed that assigned covered parking spaces are an appurtenance. The new owner seemed to not understand that their purchase of the condo unit included the right to exclusively use that one specific "too difficult" parking space. And that every other unit owner held the same exclusive use right to the parking spaces that were assigned, respectively, to the units that they purchased.

A March 3, 2017 article in The Palm Beach Post shows:

The Condominium Act, at Section 718.106 of Florida statutes, states that appurtenant rights to exclusive use of common elements (such as parking spaces) may only be transferred as provided in the declaration, and then only as consistent with those procedures.

In the light of the declaration and the Florida Statutes, the new owner's request that the condo association force another owner to give up their rights to their assigned parking space implies that the new owner did not understand that Florida condo associations must operate within the Florida Statutes and the relevant governing documents. This also implies that the new owner did not understand the obligations they accepted when signing their FL condo purchase contract.

Prospective Florida condo buyers should, if they don't understand the legal documents involved in the purchase of a condominium in Florida, engage licensed and reputable attorneys and advisors to guide their buying decision.