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RE Q&A: Inherited Condos and Background Checks

A condo board requires background checks on owners, but siblings inherited their mother’s condo and live there. Why do they need a background check now?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: My sister and I inherited a condo when my mom passed last year. We have been living here for a year with no problems. We plan to sell the apartment and move later this year to be closer to family.

We got a notice from the board that we must be vetted and pass a background check at $100 for each of us. If we don’t play their game, can they make us leave or interfere with selling our unit? – Robert

Answer: If your community association’s documents allow it, a board, often with the help of the management company, can vet new residents by looking at various factors, such as credit score, income, and a background check.

However, a community association cannot get in the way when someone comes to own real estate by “operation of law,” such as by winning a foreclosure auction or inheriting it.

There is a pecking order to who gets to decide, and the legal system will override the community’s rules.

While under these circumstances the board cannot stop someone from becoming an owner of the property, it may be able to stop that same person from living there. This can only occur when it is spelled out in the association’s formative documents, but if the rules allow it, it is possible that a unit owner may not be allowed to live in their apartment.

If this is the case in your community and you decide to not cooperate, the association can fine you and eventually take legal action, suing for an injunction.

If they get this, they can have you put out of the home, but will not be able to stop you from selling your condo to an otherwise qualified buyer.

Since you plan on selling soon anyway, you may want to submit your application and jump through the hoops. Sometimes it is better to go with the flow and avoid the aggravation that comes with making unnecessary waves.

Copyright © South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.