While residing in a Florida condo association, many disputes arise between the unit owners and the association. Florida condo associations are governed by Chapter 718, Florida Statutes which are commonly known as the Florida Condo Statutes. When disputes begin, many associations or units owners immediately proceed to litigation by the filing of a complaint; however, the Florida Condo Statutes require that certain “disputes” proceed to mandatory nonbinding arbitration before the filing of a lawsuit in court.
The Florida Condo Statutes define the certain “disputes” as a disagreement between two or more parties that involves the authority of the board of directors under either the Florida Condo Statutes or the condo associations declaration to:
Require any owner to take any action, or not to take any action, involving that unit owner’s unit or the appurtenances thereto; and
Alter or add to a common area or element.
The Florida Condo Statutes further identifies a second area in which a dispute encompasses dealing with the failure of a governing body to:
Properly conduct elections;
Give adequate notice of meetings;
Properly conduct meetings; and
Allow inspection of books and records.
The Florida Condo Statutes also list certain disputes that are NOT subject to the mandatory nonbinding arbitration requirement. The disputes are:
Title to any unit or common element;
The interpretation or enforcement of any warranty;
The levy of a fee or assessment;
The collection of an assessment levied against a party;
The eviction or other removal of a tenant from a unit;
Alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by one or more directors; and
Claims for damages to a unit based upon the alleged failure of the association to maintain the common elements or condominium property.
Many of the common disputes that proceed to arbitration typically involve disputes involving parking, elections, pets, noise restrictions, alterations by a unit owner to the unit or the common elements without approval of the association, alterations by the association to the common elements without the approval of the unit owners, and other similar cases.
It is very important that both unit owners and the associations board of directors understand the mandatory presuit arbitration requirement provided for in the Florida Condo Statutes. The requirements are significant because if a party disregards the requirement, and files a lawsuit without first seeking arbitration, Florida courts may dismiss the action, which may subject the initiating party to attorney’s fees and costs regardless of the merit of their case.
If you are a unit owner or on the board of a Florida condominium association, and currently have a dispute, it is very important that you have an understanding of the mandatory nonbinding arbitration requirement outlined in the Florida Condo Statutes. Boatman Ricci, P.A. has significant experience with Florida condominium association law. If you are in need of legal assistance as either a plaintiff or a defendant, please contact Boatman Ricci at 239-330-1494 to discuss your case.
Ernest A. Ricci, Esq.
Associate – Boatman Ricci, P.A.
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