Albert Moore, Attorney at Law

Should I Report A Dispute With A Neighbor To The Condo Board Prior To Filing A Lawsuit?

It depends on the nature of the dispute. Most declarations of the condominium or if in an HOA, a declaration or restrictions. Most of those do have language in there that all of the members are entitled to, kind of paraphrase it, a peaceful existence within the association. So if you have an issue where it’s noise related, if you have an issue where there are assigned parking spots in a neighbor’s parking in that particular spot, then it probably would be a good idea to contact the management company that works for the association or if they don’t have a management company or a manager to record it to whoever is the liaison for the board of directors to see if they can resolve that matter without having to go to court.

Now, having said that, there are some disputes that obviously would be outside the jurisdiction and purview of the association, if you had somebody that was committing some type of criminal activity and you happen to be a victim of it, be it stalking or threats or actual physical violence or fraud or something of that nature then the association most likely is not going to get involved and redirect the person to either go call law enforcement and if it’s a civil matter and the association for one reason or another says it’s outside their area then you would have to file suit. Typically speaking, if it’s a dispute based on the neighbor causing you not to fully enjoy your unit or your home, it’s probably a good idea to contact the association to see if they have any suggestions or if they are willing to take any action. That might need you to either file suit or go to a law enforcement agency.

Can A Florida Condominium Association Or HOA Restrict The Sale Or Rental Of A Condo Unit Or A Home?

On the rentals, they certainly can, for tenancies. The issue that arises quite often is whether or not those restrictions are adequately stated in the governing documents. A lot of times you have associations that don’t address approval by the association for any kind of tenancy in any of the documents that the community association manager sends out an approval for and says that if you don’t get an approval then you can’t have a tenancy and there needs to be something in the governing documents, it’s preferable for the association to have those in the declaration because these are higher up in the hierarchy of governing documents but if there are any rules and any regulations, typically that is enforceable. Obviously, the association cannot violate any state or federal laws when it comes to housing. So you can’t have a disapproval based upon religion, race, sex, creed, those kinds of things. You certainly can’t deny somebody based upon those issues but if they are in the governing documents and there is a background check and the background check turns out bad for the prospective tenant, then the association is usually within their rights to deny occupancy of the tenant.

With occupancy by an owner or a prospective owner, it’s much more difficult because now, you are infringing upon the homeowner’s right to sell the property to somebody else or to a prospective purchaser or purchaser that wants to live in a particular area that there is nothing in the governing documents association more likely than not does not have any grounds to deny occupancy of an owner or a prospective owner. When the governing documents do address those issues, most courts will not allow just a blanket approval and a blanket denial or the ability for an association to just give a blanket denial just based upon the discretion of the association. So if the governing documents say any type of initial sale from the developer in use or in a resale from a member owner to another purchaser that is completely up to the discretion of the board about that approval for the sale to go through or a new purchaser cannot occupy the property. That is going to be invalid.

So the associations have to be very careful and they have to be very specific about what details that would prohibit occupancy. In other words, if they have a felony conviction, is that specific enough? Some courts have held no. You have to say what type of felony convictions are on there or an actual owner would have in order to bar their occupancy. There are other courts that go one step further and basically have said that an association does not have the authority to deny an owner occupancy. Once they are in there, there are rules that have to be followed, the terms of the declaration, the condominium covenant of declarations and restrictions, covenants, if it’s an HOA. If those aren’t followed in their finding procedures there can be issues such as where there are assessments involved where you can foreclose on the property and take the property.

So that ownership right is not absolute, but to deny it is a pretty difficult thing for an association to do. It’s possible but you have to be very specific in those governing documents to help out with the reasons for denial of an owner.

For more information on Reporting A Dispute To An HOA In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (772) 242-3600 today.

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