There’s some good news for you if you own a unit in a Florida Condominium: at least you’re not living in a Florida HOA! Under Florida law, for whatever reason, a Florida Home Owner Association is able to place a lien on a home if the owner fails to pay a fine that has been properly assessed against the homeowner. Florida statutes do not allow Florida Condo Associations this power (yet).
So, Florida Condo unit owners cannot face a foreclosure action by their Condo Association for failing to pay a fine. However, there is still some troubling consequences for a condo owner who fails or refuses to pay. Additionally, fine fights are often fuel for larger controversies between owners and associations that can have lasting consequences.
What Type of Behavior Can a Condo Association Fine An Owner For Under Florida Law?
Under Florida Statute 718.303, unit owners in a Florida condominium can be fined for certain actions and behaviors. The law provides:
“… the association may levy reasonable fines for the failure of the owner of the unit or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association.”
These fines cannot total a sum in excess of $1000.00, and under the statute, an individual fine cannot be more than $100.00. Fines can be levied on condo owners for all sorts of things, it all depends on the language regarding violations and fines contained within the Condominium Documents.
Common Condo Fines
Fines are usually levied against condo owners for infractions to the common enjoyment of the entire property by all the owners and their guests. For instance, a fine may be levied by a Condo Association for things like:
- parking your car in a parking spot designated specifically for guests
- failing to pick up after your pup might cause you to be fined
- playing your music too loud.
Contesting Condo Association Fines
Florida law establishes how condo owners are to go about contesting fines that have been levied against them by a Condo Association. The fine is not officially due and payable until,
“ … the association first provides at least 14 days written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the unit owner and, if applicable, its occupant, licensee, or invitee. The hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons residing in a board member’s household. If the committee does not agree, the fine or suspension may not be imposed.”
In other words, you have the legal right to fight the fine at a hearing before a committee of your fellow unit owners who are neither on the Board of Directors for the Condo Association nor a member of your residence. Basically, if you can convince the committee that the fine is unfair, you won’t have to pay.
This may be easier to accomplish than you might think at first. How many of your neighbors are going to want the chore and burden of fining the people that they see all the time in the elevator or by the pool?
What are the Consequences for Not Paying a Condo Fine?
If you do lose your fight against the Condo Fine, there can be serious consequences for failing to pay, no matter how irritating it may be to pay the fine. A small fine can combust into a major headache for an owner.
Florida Statute 718.303(4)-(6) details the consequences of what can happen to a Condo Owner who fails to pay. The law is clear as to what happens, taking the matter out of the hands of both the owner and the Association.
Once the fine has gone unpaid, and there is a properly noticed meeting of the Condo Board of Directors, then the Condo Owner faces the following action by the Condo Association:
- Once the fine is past due for 90 days, then the Association is legally able to suspend the Condo Owner’s right to use any condominium property outside the unit itself, the parking area, the elevator, and the utilities. In other words, the owner can be barred from enjoying all the common elements as well as the shared facilities (like the pool or the tennis courts).
- Additionally, the Condo Owner may see their voting rights suspended until the fine is paid. Voting rights cannot be suspended until the fine is 90 days past due.
One last thing, if someone other than the Condo Owner resides in the condo, then they have to deal with these inconveniences even though the Fine Fight may be between the Association and the unit owner.
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