“Fine Amounts Set by Statute,” News-Press

“Fine Amounts Set by Statute,” News-Press

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Q: My association is threatening to fine me $100.00 per day for not following their mask rules. Is there a law that allows associations to fine $100.00 per day? (J.G., via e-mail)

A: Section 720.305(2) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act authorizes an association to levy fines for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant to comply with the governing documents. Rules and regulations are part of the governing documents. HOA fines are capped at $100.00 per violation with a maximum fine of $1,000.00 for an ongoing violation, although the governing documents may provide for higher fines.

Section 718.303(3) of the Florida Condominium Act likewise provides that association may levy fines for the failure of the owner of the unit or its occupant to comply with reasonable rules of the association. Fines are also capped by this statute at $100.00 per incident or $1,000.00 cumulative, but the governing documents cannot authorize a higher amount.

Q: Recently, a unit in my condominium association was sold by the county for unpaid taxes. One of the board members purchased the unit at the tax sale. I understood that board members were not allowed to purchase units at such sales. Is that correct? (E.J., via e-mail)

A: No. There is no limitation in the law regarding the ability of a board member to purchase a unit that is sold at public auction for unpaid taxes.

I suspect you are thinking of the limitation on board members, managers, and management companies from purchasing units that are sold at foreclosure sales resulting from the association’s foreclosure of its lien for unpaid assessments. Section 718.111(9) of the Florida Condominium Act discusses the authority of the association to purchase units.

The statute states that an association has the authority to purchase units within the condominium unless such authority is limited or prohibited by the condominium documents. However, there can be no limitation on the association’s right to purchase units at a foreclosure sale resulting from the association’s foreclosure of its claim of lien for unpaid assessments. However, as noted above, board members, managers, and management companies may not purchase units from the foreclosure sale of the association’s claim of lien.

Therefore, there is no limitation on a board member or any other individual from purchasing a unit from a sale that resulted in unpaid taxes or from a sale that is a result of a mortgage foreclosure unrelated to the association’s claim of lien.

Q: I find it ridiculous that my association is advertised as amenities laden but does not have a hot tub just like about every hotel. Can the members put one in? (J.K., via e-mail)

A: The members have no legal right to improve the common elements, including the installation of a hot tub. This would need to be implemented through the board of directors, though a membership vote could be required in advance of the board doing so.

The installation of a hot tub would likely constitute a “material alteration or addition” to the common elements. Unless the declaration provides otherwise, a condominium must obtain approval of 75% of the total voting interests for material alterations or substantial additions pursuant to Section 718.112(2) of the Florida Condominium Act. There is usually one voting interest per unit.

Some declarations authorize the board to unilaterally approve material alterations up to a certain financial amount, some require a unit owner vote for any material alteration. There may be a petition process in your declaration where this issue could be submitted to a vote even if not supported by the board.

The way the installation would be financed also needs to be considered that may also require an owner vote under your documents. Competitive bidding would also be required by statute if the project contract requires payment of an amount that exceeds five percent of the total annual budget of the association, including reserves.

Joseph Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.