Can My Condo Association Prevent Me From Renting My Unit?

Question: Before I purchased my condominium unit, my association amended its governing documents to state “an owner may lease or rent his apartment only once during the period of his ownership”. I now work several hours away, which has created a burden, and I need to rent my unit. How can I get the association to reevaluate the amendment or provide me with an exception?  Also, I didn’t vote for the amendment and no one told me about the provision when I purchased my unit; does it still apply to me? B.I. (via e-mail)

Answer: The Florida Condominium Act specifically addresses amendments which limit or prohibit unit owners from renting their units. Section 718.110(13) of the current version of the statute states that amendments prohibiting unit owners from renting their units, altering the duration of the rental term, or specifying or limiting the number of times unit owners are entitled to rent their units during a specified period, apply only to unit owners who consent to the amendment, and unit owners who acquire title to their units after the effective date of that amendment. You fall into the latter category.

Therefore, if your condominium association adopted an amendment which restricts your ability to lease your unit, and that amendment took effect prior to your acquiring title to your unit, the amendment would apply to you. If the amendment was duly recorded in the land records, you were on “constructive notice” of the amendment, and there is no requirement that the association “tell you about it.”  However, the “Question and Answer Sheet” prepared by the association, which you are legally entitled to receive during your pre-purchase cooling off period, should have disclosed this restriction.

If you want to see the restriction changed, the documents would need to be amended again. There is probably a petition process in your documents where owners can propose changes, although that is usually an uphill climb in situations like the one you describe.

Originally posted on Florida Condo HOA Law Blog

 

Does Each Unit Get One Vote in a Florida HOA?

Question: There are 10 homes in our community. The declaration of covenants provides that it can be amended by a majority of the voting interests. It also provides that homes 1 through 9 each get one vote and home 10 gets 10 votes. An amendment is approved 10 to 9, with the 10 yes votes coming from home 10. Homes 1 through 9 all voted no. It does not seem right that one homeowner can determine whether an amendment passes or does not. Would the courts agree a majority of the “voting interests” of this association wanted this amendment to pass, even though only 1 out of 10 members voted yes? S.C. (via e-mail)

Answer: Yes. The term “voting interest” is defined rather broadly in the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes) to mean the voting rights distributed to the members of the homeowners’ association, pursuant to the declaration of covenants. Although I have never seen a declaration with such a provision, if the declaration as originally recorded specifically apportions voting rights by providing one homeowner with more votes than another, a court would likely agree that the amendment was approved as required by the declaration.

If the home has 10 votes because it is still owned by a developer, the result may be different. In general, both the statute and the case decisions places more limits on amendments passed by preferential developer voting rights than amendments that are subject to a democratic vote of non-developer amendments.

Written by Joseph Adams at Florida Condo & HOA Law Blog