When the Condominium Act was amended several years ago to allow associations to demand and collect rent directly from the tenants of unit owners who were delinquent in the payment of their monthly fees, community associations thought it was an answer to their prayers. Associations were struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis, and many homeowners made the decision to rent their units to make some money but, unfortunately, they also chose not to pay their associations.
However, utilization of this amendment has proven to be difficult and sometimes costly to enforce in cases in which de facto tenants and their landlords are able to demonstrate to the court that a tenancy under the letter of the law is not actually in place. How many times have we heard that the tenant is “family,” that the tenant does not pay the landlord, and that there’s no lease in place?
A noteworthy example is found in a ruling last year by the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Appellate Division in the case of Cecil Tavares v. Villa Doral Master Association. Tavares had conveyed his condominium unit via quit claim deed to a new owner, but he and his wife continued to live there. When the new owner went into arrears with the association, it attempted to collect the rent directly from Tavares and eventually filed for an eviction.
The county court granted default judgment in favor of the association and issued a writ of possession to enable it to move forward with the eviction, but Tavares appealed on the question of whether the court erred by defining him as a tenant based on the quit claim deed.