I’m a unit owner in a condominium, and I’m having trouble getting my condominium association to answer my questions. I’ve left numerous phone messages. How can I get them to answer my question?
A: Section 718.112 (2)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides that “when a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. The board’s response shall either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested, or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the division. If the board requests advice from the division, the board shall, within 10 days of its receipt of the advice, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquirer. If a legal opinion is requested, the board shall, within 60 days after the receipt of the inquiry, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquiry.”
Q: I’m a property manager for a landlord who owns a condominium unit and hasn’t been paying his assessments to the condominium association. The tenants just informed me that they had been notified by the association that they must pay their monthly rent to the association until further notice. Can the condominium association do that?
A: Yes. Pursuant to Section 718.116(11),Florida Statutes, if the unit is occupied by tenants and the unit owner is delinquent in paying any monetary obligation due to the association, the association may make a written demand that the tenants pay their future monetary obligations related to the condominium unit to the association. The tenants must do this until the association releases them or they discontinue tenancy in the unit. The association must mail written notice to the unit owner of the association’s demand and must, upon request, provide the tenants with written receipts for payments made. Tenants who act in good faith in response to a written demand from an association are immune from any claim from the unit owner.
Q: I represent a tenant. Six months into the lease, the condominium association advised her that she could no longer use the pool because the unit owner/ landlord was behind on paying his assessments. Can the association do this?
A: It depends. According to Section 718.303(4), Florida Statutes, "If a unit owner is more than 90 days delinquent in paying a monetary obligation due to the association, the association may suspend the right of the unit owner or the unit’s occupant, licensee, or invitee to use common elements, common facilities or any other association property until the monetary obligation is paid in full." However, the subsection goes on to say that the association’s ability to suspend use "does not apply to limited common elements intended to be used only by that unit, common elements that must be used to access the unit, utility services provided to the unit, parking spaces or elevators."
Q: Every time I ask a member of my condominium board a question, I get a different answer. How can I pin down the association to a particular answer?
A: Section 718.112 (2)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides that when a unit owner files a written inquiry with the board of administration by certified mail, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. The board’s response shall either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. If the board requests advice from the division, the board shall, within 10 days of its receipt of the advice, provide a substantive written response to the inquirer. If a legal opinion is requested, the board shall, within 60 days after receipt of the inquiry, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquiry. The failure to provide a substantive response to the inquiry precludes the board from recovering attorneys’ fees and other costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding or arbitration arising out of the inquiry.
Q: I represent a buyer on a purchase of condominium property. My buyer tells me that he is entitled to receive a condominium governance form in addition to other condominium documents. Is this true?
A: Yes. Pursuant to Section 718.503, Florida Statutes, a buyer is entitled to receive from the seller a condominium governance form summarizing the governance of the condominium association. The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation provides that form.
Q: May a residential condominium restrict a unit owner’s rights with respect to the rental of units?
A: Yes. However, Section 718.110 (13), Florida Statutes, provides that “any amendment restricting unit owners’ rights relating to the rental of units applies only to unit owners who consent to the amendment and unit owners who purchase their units after the effective date of that amendment.”
Q: Does the Board of Administration of a condominium association have an obligation to respond to a written inquiry filed by certified mail by a unit owner?
A: Yes. Section 718.112 (2)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides that when a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board must respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. The statute provides that the board’s response must either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes.
Additionally, 718.112 (2)(a)2 provides that the association, through its board of administration, can adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to unit owner inquiries, one of which may be that the association is obligated to respond to only one written inquiry per unit in any given 30-day period.
Q: I’m working with a buyer who’s entered into a contract for sale/purchase for the resale of a residential condominium unit. I know that under Florida law the buyer has three days to cancel from receipt of a current copy of the condominium documents (the declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules of the association, most recent year-end financial information and the frequently asked questions and answers document). Is the three-day period calculated in calendar or business days?
A: Section 718.503(2), Florida Statutes, provides that the three-day period excludes Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
Q: I represent a buyer of a condominium unit. The buyer's lender requires an estoppel letter from the condominium association, which the association is charging my buyer $150 to provide. May the association charge for an estoppel letter?
A: Yes. Section 718.111(12)(e), Florida Statutes states, in pertinent part, that “the association ... may charge a reasonable fee to the prospective purchaser, lienholder, or the current unit owner for providing good faith responses to requests for information by or on behalf of a prospective purchaser or lienholder, other than that required by law, if the fee does not exceed $150 plus the reasonable cost of photocopying and any attorney’s fees incurred by the association in connection with the response.
Q: I represent a buyer who has entered into a contract to purchase a residential condominium resale unit. The seller’s agent says that if the buyer wants a copy of the condominium association documents, the buyer must pay for them. Isn’t it the seller’s obligation to pay for the condominium association documents?
A: Yes. Section 718.503(2) (a), Florida Statues, provides “… each prospective purchaser who has entered into a contract for the purchase of a condominium unit is entitled, at the seller’s expense, to a current copy of declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation of the association, bylaws and rules of the association, financial information required by section (s.) 718.111, and the document entitled “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers” required by s. 718.504.”
NOTE: Changes to 718.503 (2) made by the Florida Legislature in 2008 were recently approved by the governor. These changes take effect October 1, 2008, and in part, provide "on and after January 1, 2009, the prospective purchaser shall also be entitled to receive from the seller a copy of a governance form." The law explains that this form summarizes governance of condominium associations and states that it "shall be provided by the division [of land sales, condominiums and mobile homes.]."
Q: Does the seller of a residential condominium resale have a set amount of time, as a matter of law, in which to provide “condominium docs” to the buyer?
A: No. However, the buyer has three days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) from the time he or she receives the documents to rescind the contract, so it’s in the best interest of the seller to provide the documents as soon as possible.
Q: I represent a buyer who entered into a contract to purchase a residential condominium. The contract includes Section 718.503 (2)'s statutorily required language giving the buyer three days after execution of the contract and receipt by the buyer of the condominium documents to cancel. It has been two weeks since the parties entered into the contract, and the seller has yet to provide the condo documents to the buyer. Now the seller wants the buyer to sign an addendum which says the buyer will only have 24 hours from receipt of the documents to cancel. If the buyer signs this amendment, would it be valid and enforceable?
A: No. The disclosure language set forth in Section 718.503(2) provides “any purported waiver of these voidability rights shall be of no effect.” Therefore, an amendment to a contract where the parties presumably agreed to resolve the time period the buyer has to cancel from the three day period outlined in the statute to 24 hours would not be enforceable.
Q: Is a condominium association a corporation?
A: Yes. Section 718.104 (4)(i), Florida Statutes, states “The association … must be a corporation for profit or a corporation not for profit.”