The firm’s latest “Real Estate Counselor” column in today’s Miami Herald is authored by partner Jonathan M. Mofsky and titled “Ruling Shows Pitfalls of Associations Enacting Changes Without Required Votes.” It focuses on a recent ruling by Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal that illustrates the potential consequences of associations that undergo alterations to their amenities and enact rule changes without the required vote and approval of their unit owners. Jonathan’s article reads:
. . . The case initially stems from a filing for mandatory non-binding arbitration with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Michelle and Kevin Flint, owners of several units at the Lexington Place condominium in Orlando, objected to the condo association’s elimination of a common element dog park and a court for wallyball (i.e., a sport similar to volleyball played on a racquetball court). They alleged the association performed these material alterations without a vote and majority approval of the unit owners in violation of its own declaration of condominium.
The Flints also challenged a board-enacted rule that prevented tenants from maintaining pets at the condominium, which they claimed violated the pet restrictions contained in the declaration.
The couple prevailed in these proceedings on both issues. However, the association chose to escalate the matter by filing a lawsuit in Orange County circuit court based on the same arguments originally presented in arbitration.
The circuit court also ruled in favor of the Flints and affirmed the arbitrator’s decision. After considering the different provisions in the association’s declaration as well as the arguments of the parties, the court found that because the association’s declaration required approval by a majority vote of the unit owners prior to performing the alterations, the association’s board of directors alone lacked the authority to eliminate the community’s dog park and wallyball court.