Florida Condo Guide

Florida Condo Guide Blog

This condo blog together with the Condo Basics page provides a sort of guide to Florida condo life. Both pages together may help prospective condo buyers and owners learn about Florida condo life. Condo Basics covers many of the most basic aspects related to living in a Florida condo. Visit the Contact page to submit your story or to ask a question.

Owner Tips provides a sort of guide on issues that may arise while living in a FL condominium.

Buying Tips lists items that prospective buyers may want to consider before making an offer to buy

Owner Resources lists a variety of additional resources about Florida condo living. These resources include videos, podcasts, and Florida state agencies.

To learn when Florida Condo Tips adds condo information, follow us on Twitter .

Why is Florida condominium landscaping often a problem?

Landscaping is generally important at Florida condos, as it can have several benefits for both the property and its residents. Landscaping, however, can be a source of some of the most expensive and emotional problems at a condominium.

  1. Landscaping can often pose challenges at condominiums in Florida for several reasons which are outlined on Florida Condo Landscaping
  2. Landscaping can create emotional drama for Florida condo associations, as it often involves various stakeholders with differing opinions and expectations. Several factors contribute to the emotional drama associated with landscaping decisions.
  3. The association can establish policies for the landscaping committee.

How can Florida condominium owners respond to rising condo association fees?

Florida condo owners and prospective condo buyers can respond to rising Florida condo costs in several ways. Here are some actions that people can take:

  • Personal Budgeting and Financial Planning: Evaluate your financial situation and create a budget that accommodates rising condo costs. Assess your income, expenses, and savings to ensure you can afford the associated expenses, such as mortgage payments, association fees, and maintenance costs. This may be the single biggest mistake that condo owners make. Perhaps much too often, buyers, sometimes unknowingly, overextend themselves financially because they do not understand that condo costs can rise for a variety of reasons (see the Assessments page for more info).
  • Research and Educate Yourself: Stay informed about market trends, housing policies, and regulations that affect condo costs in Florida. Understand the factors influencing price increases and how they may impact your situation.
  • Consider Alternative Locations: Explore condominium options in areas outside of high-demand, expensive locations. Look for emerging neighborhoods or suburbs where prices may be more affordable while still offering desirable amenities and proximity to necessary facilities.
  • Explore Different Property Types: Expand your search to include other property types like townhouses or single-family homes, which may provide better value for your money compared to condos in some cases.
  • Rent Instead of Buying: If purchasing a condo is financially challenging, consider renting as an alternative. Renting can provide flexibility and lower upfront costs compared to home ownership.
  • Shop Around: When purchasing or renting a condo, shop around and compare prices to ensure you're getting the best value for your money.
  • Community Engagement: Get involved in local government organizations that advocate for affordable housing and address rising condo costs. By joining forces with others, you can work together to raise awareness and push for policy changes that promote housing affordability.
  • Seek Financial Assistance Programs: Explore available financial assistance programs, grants, or subsidies that can help offset some of the costs associated with purchasing or renting a condo. Research government programs or nonprofit organizations that provide support for affordable housing.
  • Consider Co-Ownership or Co-Housing: Explore the possibility of co-ownership or co-housing arrangements where multiple individuals or families come together to jointly purchase a property. This can help reduce costs and make home ownership more affordable.
  • Explore Housing Cooperatives: Investigate the option of housing cooperatives (co-ops), where residents collectively own and manage the property. Co-ops often have lower costs compared to traditional condos, making them more affordable for residents.
  • Advocate for Policy Changes: Engage with local elected officials to voice your concerns about rising condo costs. Advocate for policies that promote affordable housing, increase housing supply, and protect the rights of renters and buyers.

Remember that individual responses to rising condo costs will vary based on personal circumstances, financial capabilities, and long-term goals. It's important to assess your situation and make decisions that align with your needs and resources.

Rising Florida Condo Costs Unaffordable for Many.

National and local news media have reported that Florida condo fees are going up, up, up. Rising condo insurance fees can lead some condo owners to complain that "something" needs to be done to keep costs affordable for them.

Why are Florida condo costs and condo association fees rising?

In 2022 and 2023, news media reported the following as drivers of rising condo fees:

  • Surfside Condo Collapse
  • Rising Property Insurance Costs

Here are examples of some of these types of stories: (Note: Some of these stories seem to misrepresent condo associations as HOAs). Learn about the distinction between Condo Associations (CA) and Home Owners Associations (HOA) on the Associations page.

An internet search will show additional reasons for rising Florida condo fees. These reasons include the following, and others may exist:

  • High Demand: Even with rising condo costs, Florida remains a popular destination for retirees, vacationers, and individuals seeking warmer climates, leading to a high demand for condos. The influx of people looking to purchase or rent condos increases competition, driving up prices.
  • Limited Supply: While demand for condos is high, the supply is limited, especially in desirable areas such as beachfront locations, urban centers, and upscale residential communities. Land scarcity and zoning restrictions can make it challenging to build new condo developments, leading to a constrained supply and higher prices.
  • Desirable Location: Florida offers a desirable lifestyle with pleasant weather, beaches, and recreational opportunities. This attractiveness increases demand for condos, particularly in sought-after locations, and contributes to price appreciation.
  • Development Costs: The cost of constructing new condo buildings or renovating existing ones can be substantial. Factors like rising construction material prices, labor costs, and permitting expenses can drive up the overall cost of development. These increased costs are often passed on to buyers or renters. The 60 Minutes television series episode Surfside: More questions than answers a year after condominium collapse (see the link in the list above) included a segment about how developers are buying out owners that cannot afford the higher fees.
  • Property Appreciation: Over time, real estate values in Florida have tended to appreciate, making condos an attractive investment option. Investors and speculators entering the market can further drive up prices as they anticipate future gains.
  • Economic Growth: Florida's strong economy, fueled by sectors like tourism, healthcare, and technology, attracts businesses and individuals to the state. Economic growth can lead to increased employment opportunities and disposable income, which, in turn, can contribute to higher housing demand and prices.
  • Association Fees and Maintenance Costs: Condo owners are typically responsible for monthly association fees and maintenance costs. If these expenses increase due to factors like rising insurance costs, property taxes, or necessary repairs, it can lead to higher overall costs for condo owners.

It's important to note that these factors can vary across different regions within Florida, and the specific market conditions at a given time can also influence condo costs. These regional differences may provide a solution to those condo owners faced with rising condo fees.

Look for the next post by Florida Condo Tips to list some of options for condo owners that can no longer afford their condo association fees. Read more on the condo association assessments page.

Can Florida Condo Associations Regulate Florida Condo Rentals?

Yes, Florida condo associations can regulate condo rentals through their governing documents. It's essential to check the most up-to-date information as regulations can change over time.

Some common guidelines and considerations that apply to condo rentals in Florida include:

  • Minimum Lease Terms
  • Security Deposits
  • Tenant Screening
  • Occupancy Limits

It's important to note that the specific requirements for Florida condo rentals may vary among different condo associations. Condo associations typically outline these requirements in their governing documents. Owners and tenants should carefully review these documents to understand the specifics for the condominium association involved. Additionally, Florida state law may impose regulations, so it's essential to be aware of these legal requirements as well.

Learn more about Florida condo rentals on our Florida Condo Rental page.

Bird Problems with a Penthouse Condominium

Penthouse condos can experience a variety of bird problems. Penthouse condominiums often have the most desirability in a condo complex. This desirability reveals itself in the price of penthouse condos versus condos on other floors in the same building. However, penthouse condos sometimes have unique problems that are not easily solved and perhaps sometimes are not solvable. Florida Condo Tips has posted on some of the noise issues that affect penthouse condos. Birds are sometimes one of the problems that Florida penthouse condos encounter.

Some of the most common bird problems that penthouse condominiums face include:

  • Droppings: Birds produce a lot of droppings, which can be unsightly and cause unsanitary conditions. Odors from droppings may lead condo owners to not use their terraces or balconies or even open their sliders or other windows. The acidic nature of bird droppings can eat away at building materials such as metal, paint, and stone, which then leads to unsightly damage.
  • Nesting Birds may attempt to nest on rooftops or in crevices formed by the roofline. Feathers and droppings can accumulate. Odors or rotting food or droppings can be a nuisance. Cleanliness can become a problem.
  • Noise: Some birds can be very noisy and disruptive. Some birds make more noise at dawn. Other at night. And sometimes at dusk.
  • Health concerns: Bird droppings and feathers can carry diseases and parasites that can be harmful to human health. In addition, bird droppings can create slip and fall hazards.

Since the rooftop is common area, changes to the rooftop for the convenience of just the penthouse owners may not receive the support or votes for improvements that can often be costly. Why would a 2nd floor unit support additional costs when the benefit is for the expensive unit many floors above them.

A solution might lie with the penthouse owners funding much of the improvements. For example, the cost of proactive measures such as installing bird spikes or netting to keep birds from roosting on roofs may be primarily or completely funded by the owners of the penthouse condo units. As with most, if not all, of the condo challenges covered on this website, associations may want to consult with attorneys to understand whether their governing documents or the Florida Statutes allow this type of solution.

Why do condo association costs increase after developer turnover?

With so many different condo developments and developers it's likely impossible to know exactly why costs and assessments go up after developer turnover. Here are some possible explanations - see examples and more on the Condo Turnover Date page.

  1. Developers may subsidize certain expenses in order to make the condo units more attractive to buyers.
  2. After turnover occurs, unit owners may change how the association operates and the associated costs.
  3. Associations may undertake certain improvements deferred by the developer.
  4. Owners may have different priorities than the developer, which can lead to an increase in assessments in order to cover these new expenses.

Why did Florida condo assessments increase so much?

Find more information about what may have contributed to higher Florida condo assessments on the assessments page.

Generally, there could be several reasons why assessments go up for Florida condos. These may include:

  • Rising insurance costs, particularly in the wake of natural disasters such as hurricanes.
  • Changes in state or local regulations that require condo associations to increase their reserves or allocate more funds for certain expenses.
  • The costs of necessary repairs or improvements to buildings or common areas such as things like roof repairs, elevator maintenance, landscaping, or unforeseen circumstances.
  • Inflation or rising costs of living.

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.

Read more about assessments

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.

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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.