Florida Condominium Association Rules & Regulations
There are many advantages to condominium ownership in Florida. Many people enjoy the amenities, community resources, and to some extent, the rules. Anyone who has ever lived in a condominium association in Florida is well aware that the condominium association Rules and Regulations can be a serious point of contention. Rules and Regulations are necessary and without them in a condominium association, chaos would reign supreme. The last thing anyone needs, is a condominium living situation akin to Lord of the Flies.
However, there are always going to be those certain nit-picky rules that many condominium owners view as unnecessary or intrusive into their use and enjoyment of their individual condominium unit. Many residents become quite annoyed with parking rules, notice of overnight guest rules, and overly restrictive pet regulations, just to name a few. Usually such Rules and Regulations are valid and each condominium resident must adhere to them. Sometimes, on occasion Rules and Regulations may be enacted improperly.
What Do The Court’s Say?
- General Principles & Considerations:
In Florida, there are essentially two (2) categories of cases in which condominium associations attempt to enforce restrictive use rules. The first category deals with the validity of restrictions found in the declaration of condominium itself, and the second category involves the validity of rules promulgated by the association’s board of directors or the refusal of the board of directors to allow a particular use when the board is invested with the power to grant or deny a particular use.
In the first category, the restrictions are afforded a very strong presumption of validity which arises from the fact that each individual unit owner purchases their unit knowing of and accepting the restrictions to be imposed. Such restrictions are very much in the nature of covenants running with the land and they will not be invalidated absent a showing that they are wholly arbitrary in their application, in violation of law or public policy, or that they abrogate some fundamental constitutional right. See White Egret Condominium, Inc. v. Franklin, 379 So. 2d 346 (Fla. 1979). Although the case law suggests that the Courts appear to apply a “reasonableness” test in rendering determinations as to the validity of such restrictions, the courts have routinely found that “reasonableness” is not the appropriate test, as a use restriction in a declaration of condominium may have a certain degree of unreasonableness to it, and yet withstand attack in the courts; if it were otherwise, a unit owner could not rely on the restrictions found in the declaration of condominium, since such restrictions would be in a potential condition of continuous flux. Hidden Harbour Estates, Inc. v. Basso, 393 So. 2d 637 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981).
In the case of Pepe v. Whispering Sands Condominium Association, 351, So. 2d 755 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1977), the Court expressed the view that the restrictions in the declarations of condominiums were of paramount importance in defining the rights and obligations of unit owners. In the Pepe matter, he Court specifically stated:
“A declaration of a condominium is more than a mere contract spelling out mutual rights and obligations of the parties thereto; it assumes some of the attributes of a covenant running with the land, circumscribing the extent and limits of the enjoyment and use of real property. Stated otherwise, it spells out the true extent of the purchased, and thus granted, use interest therein. Absent consent, or an amendment of the declaration of condominium as may be provided for in such declaration, or as may be provided by statute in the absence of such a provision, this enjoyment and use cannot be impaired or diminished. Id.
In those cases where a use restriction is not mandated by the declaration of condominium, but instead created by the board of directors of the condominium association, the rule of reasonableness comes into vogue. Id. The requirement of “reasonableness” in these instances is designed to somewhat fetter the discretion of the board of directors because, by imposing such a standard, the board is required to enact rules and make decisions that are reasonably related to the promotion of the health, happiness and peace of mind of the unit owners. Id. In cases in which the decision to restrict or allow a particular use is within the discretion of the board, the board must allow the use unless the use is demonstrably antagonistic to the legitimate objectives of the condominium association, i.e., the health, happiness and peace of mind of the individual unit owners. Id.
By way of example, in the case of Hidden Harbour Estates, Inc. v. Norman, 309 So. 2d 180 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975), the Court was presented with the question of whether a condominium association, through the exercise of its rule making powers, could prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the common areas of the condominium. In the Hidden Harbour case, the Court found the “rule of reasonableness” to be the touchstone by which the validity of a condominium association’s actions should be measured. In finding the restriction on the consumption of alcoholic beverages reasonable as a measure designed to promote the health, happiness, and peace of mind of the majority of the unit owners, the Court stated:
“Certainly, the association is not at liberty to adopt arbitrary or capricious rules bearing no relationship to the health, happiness and enjoyment of life of the various unit owners. On the contrary, we believe the test is reasonableness. If a rule is reasonable the association can adopt it; if not, it cannot. It is not necessary that conduct be so offensive as to constitute a nuisance in order to justify regulation thereof. Of course, this means that each case must be considered upon the peculiar facts and circumstances thereto appertaining.” Id. at 182.
Although condominium associations are not at liberty to adopt arbitrary or capricious rules bearing no relationship to health, happiness and enjoyment of life of various unit owners, associations can adopt reasonable rules under particular facts and circumstances thereto appertaining; it is not necessary that conduct be so offensive as to constitute nuisance in order to justify regulation thereof. Id. at 180.
Finally, reasonable restrictions concerning use, occupancy and transfer of condominium units are necessary for operation and protection of owners in condominium concept. Lyons v. King, 397 So.2d 964 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981).
Are Your Florida Condominium Rules And Regulations Valid?
- For A Rule(s) To Be Valid:
- the Board of Directors MUST have the authority to enact the rule. This means that the Declaration of Condominium or other governing documents for the community, such as the Bylaws and/or Articles of Incorporation, must give the Board of Directors the authority to make the Rules and Regulations;
- the Rules and Regulations MUST not conflict with rights conferred in the Declaration of Condominium, other governing documents, or Florida Statutes Chapter 718 ; and
- the Rules and Regulations MUST be reasonable, in that the Rule must be in furtherance of a legitimate purpose of the community association.
Notice Requirements Condominium Rules And Regulations
If it is determined that the Board of Directors has the authority to promulgate and amend rules and regulations, it is important that notice requirements are are strictly adhered to. These notice requirements depend on whether the rule amendment pertains to the “Use Of Units” or the “Use Of Common Elements.” Although your association’s Bylaws or other governing documents may require different or more stringent notice requirements, below are the notice requirements contained in Florida Statutes, 718.112- Bylaws.
Notice For Rule Amendment – Use Of Units- 718.112(2)(c)(1)
“1. Adequate notice of all board meetings, which must specifically identify all agenda items, must be posted conspicuously on the condominium property at least 48 continuous hours before the meeting except in an emergency. If 20 percent of the voting interests petition the board to address an item of business, the board, within 60 days after receipt of the petition, shall place the item on the agenda at its next regular board meeting or at a special meeting called for that purpose. An item not included on the notice may be taken up on an emergency basis by a vote of at least a majority plus one of the board members. Such emergency action must be noticed and ratified at the next regular board meeting. Written notice of a meeting at which a nonemergency special assessment or an amendment to rules regarding unit use will be considered must be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the unit owners and posted conspicuously on the condominium property at least 14 days before the meeting. Evidence of compliance with this 14-day notice requirement must be made by an affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed with the official records of the association . . .”
In sum, when there is to be an amendment to the Rules and Regulations regarding “Use Of Units”, and the meeting is conducted by the Board of Directors, the notice must specifically identify all agenda items, be post conspicuously on the condominium property, and the notice must actually be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the unit owners 14-days prior to the meeting. Additionally, evidence of compliance with this 14-day notice requirement must be made by an affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed with the official records of the association.
Notice For Rule Amendment – Use Of The Common Elements
As Florida’s condominium statute is silent on this issue of amending Rules and Regulations for the “Use Of Common Elements,” we recommend following the general notice requirements in Florida Statutes, 718.112, by having the notice specifically identify all agenda items and posted conspicuously on the condominium property at least 48 continuous hours before the meeting of the Board of Directors.
Should you have any questions regarding your condominium association’s Rules and Regulations affecting you, the Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC is here to help with all of your condominium association needs. Call us today @ 561.699.0399 to set-up your consultation at our Lantana, Florida office location. We are located at 814 W. Lantana Rd., Suite 1, Lantana, Florida 33462.
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