Q: My condominium building suffered significant damage from Hurricane Ian, including damage to the exterior of the building and the interior of the units. The association recently said that it will begin making various repairs, including repairs inside the unit. Is this permitted without my permission since this is property that I own? (D.K., via e-mail)
A: Yes. The association not only has the right, but the legal duty, to do the work I expect you are describing.
In 2008 the Florida Condominium Act was significantly reformed due to legal problems experienced with applying the previous statutes after the 2004-05 hurricanes (Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Jean, and Wilma).
The current law, which applies to all associations, regardless of the date of the declaration, requires the association to insure all “improvements” on the “condominium property” as originally installed by the developer and like kind replacements. The term condominium property includes both the common elements and units.
Therefore, the association insures a number of items which a unit owner may “own” and be generally required to maintain, repair and replace. Interior drywall, air conditioner condensers, and sliding glass doors would be a few common examples. The exception to this general rule is a list of “excluded items,” which the unit owner is obligated to insure. The excluded items listed in the statute include: the personal property of the unit owner; floor, wall and ceiling coverings; electrical fixtures; appliances; water heaters; water filters; built-in cabinets and counter tops; and window treatments such as curtains, drapes, blinds and related hardware.
The law goes on to provide that the party that is responsible for insuring an item, is the party that is responsible for repairing or replacing such item if it is damaged due to an insurable loss, such as a hurricane. To the extent that there are insufficient insurance proceeds to do the work, because of the deductible or otherwise, all units in the condominium are assessed for the shortfall as a common expense.
The law goes on to provide that the association may (but is not legally obliged to) permit unit owners to undertake interior unit repairs, and that the association may condition such approval on agreement as to the scope of work, all codes being followed, and the like. Some associations have been doing this after Ian, but I would say it is a fairly low percentage for a variety of logistical reasons.
The law also grants the association an irrevocable right of access to units to perform its legal duties, which would include post hurricane repair work.
Q: I have been on two different association boards and always understood that while a board member could also serve on committees, the association president could not serve on a committee. I was told that Florida law changed and now presidents of homeowners’ associations can serve on committees. Is this correct? (J.B., via e-mail)
A: To my knowledge, neither the laws for condominium nor homeowners’ associations has ever prohibited a board president from serving on committees.
The only section of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act that discusses committee membership limitations deals with committees that can approve formed to approve fines or suspensions. These committees must consist of members who are not officers, directors, or employees of the association, or the spouse, parent, child, brother or sister of an officer, director, or employee of the association.
The Florida Condominium Act likewise does not regulate committee membership, but does contain the same membership requirements for a fining committee.
Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.