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How Are Absentee Condo Owners Handled In Florida Law?

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It is unfortunately a fact of life that in many multifamily condominium buildings, there are absentee owners. While one might think that this would not affect other owners, or the condo board as a whole, there are issues that can appear, particularly with regard to maintenance and upkeep. If you are a board member or a neighbor to an unoccupied unit, you may have questions or concerns about how this should be handled, and what obligations the condo association may incur.

No Right Of Access

The main issues that arise with absentee condo owners are usually related to inspections and disaster preparedness. Florida’s Condominium Act is fairly extensive, but it does not, as of this writing, contain any provision requiring that units owned by seasonal tenants or absentee owners allow management in to inspect the premises. The Act permits the condo board to enter an abandoned unit, or to enter a unit for the express purpose of maintenance or upkeep of the common elements – but neither of those permit management to enter a unit that has not been abandoned.

The standard remedy at this point is for a board to include (or add as an amendment) a requirement in the association’s covenants, conditions & restrictions (CC&Rs) mandating a right of access for the condo board at specific intervals, regardless of whether or not the owners are in residence. However, as per usual, a condo board cannot simply unilaterally amend its CC&Rs; the cooperation of the owners will be required in passing such an amendment if this was not in the CC&Rs to begin with.

Disaster Preparation Issues

Another issue that can appear with absentee condo owners is in the realm of disaster preparedness. The Act allows the condo association to “operate” hurricane protection that it upkeeps, such as shutters, but it does not require that the protection be installed on every unit. If an owner is absent, they may miss the opportunity to install their own disaster protection, which can in turn cause problems and damage to the building overall.

As with maintenance issues, the standard remedy is to include language requiring hurricane protection be installed in the association’s CC&Rs. However, if an owner refuses to comply or simply does not get around to it, state law allows them to be held liable for any damages not covered by insurance. This can be an unpleasant surprise to the owner, but the association has the right to hold the owner responsible if they do not do their due diligence.

Call A Hollywood Condominium Attorney Today

It is not uncommon to only use your condo seasonally, but it is crucial for owners to understand and be aware of their responsibilities even when they are not in residence. If you have questions or concerns about your rights and responsibilities with regard to your Florida condo, contacting a Hollywood condo association attorney from the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. is a good first step toward getting them answered. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0718/Sections/0718.111.html

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