Condominium Association Fines: Procedure and Enforcement
Florida condominium associations are governed by rules and regulations. Many times, unit owners will not comply with the community rules and regulations. Boards are often presented with the problem of how to deal with these rogue unit owners and enforcement of the community rules are necessary. This typically results in a fine imposed on the unit owner. This blog will discuss the fining procedure for condominium associations in Florida.
The first step is for the board of directors to authorize is covenant violation letter be sent to the offending unit owner. If the unit owner does not correct the violation, the board may, at a duly noticed meeting, vote on its intent to assert a fine on the unit owner. From there, a fine or suspension may not be imposed unless the association first provides at least 14 days’ written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the unit owner and, if applicable, its occupant, licensee, or invitee. The hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons residing in a board member’s household. If the committee does not agree, the fine or suspension may not be imposed. Section 718.303(3). The statute is silent on the actual process to be used at the fine hearing but what is clear is that the fine committee will only accept or reject the proposed fine. If accepted, the board will send notification to the unit owner of the imposition of the fine.
If a unit owner does not pay the fine and 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. This does not apply to limited common elements intended to be used only by that unit, common elements needed to access the unit, utility services provided to the unit, parking spaces, or elevators. The notice and hearing requirements under subsection (3) do not apply to suspensions imposed under this subsection. Section 718.303(4).
An association may suspend the voting rights of a unit or member due to nonpayment of any monetary obligation due to the association that is more than 90 days delinquent. A voting interest or consent right allocated to a unit or member which has been suspended by the association may not be counted towards the total number of voting interests necessary to constitute a quorum, the number of voting interests required to conduct an election, or the number of voting interests required to approve an action under this chapter or pursuant to the declaration, articles of incorporation, or bylaws. The suspension ends upon full payment of all obligations currently due or overdue to the association. The notice and hearing requirements under subsection 718.303(3) do not apply to a suspension imposed here. Section 718.303(5).
Condominium associations may not impose a lien for charges unrelated to assessments for common expenses and limited common element expenses. The Condominium Act specifically prohibits fines from being the basis for a lien. Section 718.303(3); Elbadramany v. Oceans Seven Condominium Ass’n, Inc., 461 So.2d 1001 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984). An understanding of the process and procedures to impose fines is paramount to achieve unit owner compliance with community regulations.
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