Case Study: Can Owners Challenge Condominium Fines?
PeytonBolin helped a condo unit owner get relief from steep fines the association imposed. These fines weren't handled properly by the association, and they failed to comply with statutory limits.
Condominium owners and their associations often face disputes regarding community rules,association fines, and assessments. These conflicts can create time-consuming issues for all parties involved.
One Florida condominium owner was at odds with their association after being charged fines they didn't think were reasonable or being imposed properly. This was leading to lots of tension, so the owner sought legal help.
Find out how PeytonBolin was able to get the association to retract the fines by carefully reviewing governing documents and Florida statutes.
Background of the condominium fines
This particular condo owner was hit with steep fines from their association for about a year. They were facing an incredible $5,000 in total fines, so they had a feeling that the association was outside its legal bounds to charge this much. In addition, the owner didn't think the fines were being handled properly by the association. For starters, they weren't following procedures for notifying the owner about the fines.
The owner decided they needed legal assistance, and approached PeytonBolin about the case. The firm immediately started working on it, and the first step was to evaluate Florida's Condominium Act, Florida Statute 718.116.
What does Florida's Condominium Act say about association fines?
The Condominium Act outlines how associations must state their right to fine owners, which is found in Florida Statute 718.116. Additionally, associations' governing documents need to clearly state that the association has the right to levy fines when an owner – or the owner's tenant or guest – fails to comply with the governing documents.
The Act also outlines procedures the association needs to follow before it can impose fines. They must provide written notice of an upcoming fine at least 14 days in advance, for example. This gives the owner of the condo a chance for a hearing, which is held by a committee of other unit owners who are not the board members of the association. Associations are required to follow these protocols.
PeytonBolin's research and determination process
PeytonBolin started reviewing the records and requested access to any documents that applied to this case. The goal was to figure out whether the association followed the procedures and limits outlined in the Condominium Act. The firm also carefully reviewed the association's governing documents to figure out what the declaration says about administering fines to unit owners.
After review of all the documents, it was clear that the association was not complying with procedures, both in their governing documents and in Florida’s condominium laws. The association failed to provide that required 14-day notice of the forthcoming fine to the owner. In addition, the association levied fines that were greater than the statutory limits for such fines.
The association can only fine an owner up to $100 per violation, and an additional fine can be levied for each day the rules were violated, with a maximum of $1,000 in aggregate. The condo owner in this case had been fined $5,000 for one violation by the association.
It was clear to PeytonBolin that the association didn't follow the necessary notification procedure or comply with the statutory limits for these kinds of fines. The condo association had violated Florida's Condominium Act requirements.
The outcome: Fines retracted by the association
PeytonBolin attorneys communicated their findings to the condominium association, showing them evidence of the association's deviation from established processes and limits. Because it was so clear they had violated the regulations, the association decided to retract the fines. The association also extended the timeline for the owner to take care of their violations before issuing additional fines. This was the outcome the client was hoping for.
This case was able to be settled out of court because the association agreed to retract the fines, but it provides an important reminder to condo associations and condo owners. It is extremely important for associations to do their due diligence and properly review legal documents for adequate condominium governance.
Associations must strictly comply with their governing documents as well as statutory requirements under Florida law. This takes careful review before any kind of decision is made, including issuing a fine to an owner.
The condo owner did the right thing in turning to a legal professional to get the matter resolved. Condo unit owners should always seek counsel when they believe they're dealing with unfair association fines or treatment.
Find legal assistance for condo association disputes
Whatever issue you're dealing with related to a condominium association, PeytonBolin is here to help. We will assist you in navigating conflicts and gathering all the information you need so you know exactly what your rights are and how to move forward.
Contact PeytonBolin to talk to a legal professional about your condominium association case.