A recent Florida case highlights interesting concerns about a homeowner's right to privacy.
A condominium owner had repeatedly refused entry to her unit when her Association conducted pest control. According to the owner, she had a breathing disorder which would become more problematic if pest control were allowed inside her unit to spray various pesticides. The association, however, argued that they were well within their rights to enter her unit in order to conduct necessary maintenance.
While the association ultimately did allow the owner to choose her own vendor to use a pesticide free of the chemicals that exacerbated her condition, the trial court ultimately decided in favor of the association. In this particular situation, the owner was responsible for allowing the Association access to her individual unit on the third Monday of every month in order to perform pest extermination services.
The pest extermination services had to be completed with pesticides provided and purchased by the owner, and the owner also had the option to use her own exterminator and to provide the association with a copy of the invoice for the services to demonstrate that they were in fact happening on a monthly basis.
Although the court did in this situation render a decision, it did not necessarily resolve the problem between the two parties. Both sides argued that they were the prevailing and winning party, which would entitle them to an award for attorney's fees. Those homeowner associations who have a clause like this in their governing documents should be aware of how to handle potential problems.
Although this is just one example, it is illustrative of the challenges that can happen when a resident feels as though his or her privacy is being invaded and the board simply feels as though it is carrying out its mission to service the property and do the right thing in individual units. Boards may need to be flexible in this situation, documenting all decisions that are made so that they can easily be viewed again in the future.
It's not always easy to avoid conflict in situations where both sides feel as though they are in the right, but being flexible within reason can make for better interactions with homeowners. Be careful not to be too lenient in these situations, though, as it could set an unfortunate precedent for other unit owners. Maintaining professionalism and working with owners when there is a legitimate reason for their concern is the best possible outcome.
Entering into litigation with a homeowner can be both expensive and time-consuming, which why it is so important that you address these issues in your governing documents or have legal counsel that can guide you on how to handle a unique situation before it goes to court. For specific questions regarding your right to enter and homeowner's rights to privacy, contact PeytonBolin today.