Are Florida Condominium Owners Required to Carry Insurance for their Units?

Question: I am a unit owner in a high-rise condominium. At a recent board meeting which I attended, the issue of insurance was discussed. The board stated unit owners are not required to carry insurance. Is that right?  I thought the condominium law mandated that all unit owners must carry insurance for their units? T.T. (via e-mail)

Answer: Good question, the law is a bit confusing. Generally speaking, the association insures the buildings, including many parts of the unit such as drywall. The current version of the Florida Condominium Act (Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes) does not specifically mandate that unit owners must carry personal insurance (commonly known as “HO-6” insurance). The current version of the statute does, however, define those areas of a unit which the unit owners are “responsible” to insure which includes floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit  While unit owners are “responsible” to insure these defined areas within their units, the statute does not mandate it.

You may be thinking of the 2008 change to the law which did, in fact, implement mandatory HO-6 insurance policies for unit owners in condominiums. The 2008 change in the law further granted an association the authority to “force-place” and purchase and charge a unit owner who failed to confirm that they did carry HO-6 insurance. This law was repealed in 2010.

You should also check your condominium documents, as there may be a requirement which mandates that unit owners carry HO-6 insurance. In my opinion, such a provision, while not common, would likely be legally enforceable.

Originally posted in Florida Condo HOA Blog

 

Associations are Not Required to Trim Landscaping at Owner’s Request

Question: I live in a six-story condominium. My unit is on the third floor and I have, or used to have, a view of the Gulf of Mexico. There are several trees outside my unit that have become overgrown and have severely limited the view of the Gulf from my unit. I asked the board to have the trees trimmed to improve my view. They rejected my request by saying that the landscaper recommended the trees not be trimmed at this time. I am considering putting my unit up for sale and the lack of a Gulf view will be a problem. Can I demand the association trim the trees so I can get my view of the Gulf back? — T.E., Naples

Answer: Probably not. Florida courts have held that there is no inherent “easement to a view.” More than 50 years ago, there was an epic legal battle in Miami Beach between the Eden Roc Hotel and the Fontainebleau Hotel regarding the right to a view. The Eden Roc objected when the Fontainebleau proposed to construct an additional 14 stories that would shade the pool and sunbathing areas of the Eden Roc. The court ruled that the Eden Roc did not have an easement of light that would prevent the Fontainebleau from adding the additional stories.

The Fontainebleau case involved neighboring landowners, a situation somewhat different from yours legally. However, several condominium arbitration decisions have addressed similar disputes and have held that a condo unit owner does not have a specific right to an unobstructed view, at least absent an expression of that right in the declaration of condominium.

These cases have confirmed that the subject associations were not required to trim their landscaping simply because an owner demanded it. However, this specific issue has yet to be squarely addressed in the courts. Although arbitration decisions are not afforded the same weight as appellate court cases, they are persuasive authority and will be specifically relied upon in any condominium arbitration proceeding.

David G. Muller is an attorney with the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., which represents community associations throughout Florida, with offices in Naples, Fort Myers and 11 other Florida cities. The firm focuses a substantial amount of its practice on condominium and homeowners association law.

Originally posted on Florida Condo Law HOA Blog

 

How Can Associations Enforce Traffic Laws on Private Roads in the Community?

For communities with internal private roads, enforcement of speed limits, stop signs and other regular traffic laws can be problematic. While the governing documents for a community might require residents to drive safely and follow traffic laws on the streets within the community, these types of violations are nearly impossible to enforce in the same manner as other violations. Additionally, where the streets in a community are private, law enforcement does not have the authority, on its own, to come in and enforce Florida traffic laws. Associations are not powerless to address these issues, however. Under section 316.006, Florida Statutes, the owners of private streets can enter into agreements with cities and counties for the enforcement of Florida traffic laws over their private streets. For the enforcement of traffic laws within a community located within the city limits, Section 316.006(2)(b), Florida Statutes, provides: A municipality may exercise jurisdiction over any private road or roads . . . located within its boundaries if the municipality and party or parties owning or controlling such road or roads provide, by written agreement approved by the governing body of the municipality, for municipal traffic control jurisdiction over the road or roads encompassed by such agreement. Correspondingly, for the enforcement of traffic laws within a community located within an unincorporated area of a county, Section 316.006(3)(b), Florida Statutes, provides: A county may exercise jurisdiction over any private road or roads . . . located in the unincorporated area within its boundaries if the county and party or parties owning or controlling such road or roads provide, by written agreement approved by the governing body of the county, for county traffic control jurisdiction over the road or roads encompassed by such agreement.

Some county and city websites include the specific requirements and procedures for entering into a traffic enforcement agreement. These can vary, with some governmental bodies requiring a processing fee, a certified traffic survey by a licensed traffic consultant or engineering firm, a copy of the Association’s Articles of Incorporation, proof of ownership of the roads within the community, and/or maps of the community, among other things. In addition to the requirements of specific governing bodies, a typical traffic enforcement agreement will include provisions related to: Reimbursement for actual costs of traffic control and enforcement: In some instances, an Association might not be charged anything; while in others, an Association might be charged a reasonable fee based upon the enforcement activities which will be required. Liability Insurance and Indemnification: Proof of general liability insurance of a specified minimum amount will likely be required, as will an indemnification provision in favor of the governing body and law enforcement agency related to any of the enforcement activities considered under the agreement. Signage: Signs within the community must meet standards of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Term of Agreement: Generally one or two year terms with automatic renewals unless terminated by the parties. Road Maintenance: Provision stating that no duty of maintenance of the roads shall be imposed upon the city or county as a result of the agreement. Because of the variables in negotiating these traffic enforcement agreements, it is advisable that Associations consult with their Association attorney who can assist with the negotiation process. It is important to keep in mind, too, that these agreements can sometimes take two or three months to process. Once entered, though, such traffic enforcement agreements provide an excellent way for Associations to increase safety on the roads within the community.

Written by Sarah K. Wilson, Esq. Originally posted on Becker & Poliakoff Community Update