Q: I recently purchased a unit at a condominium association that has been around for about 20 years. I have lived in condominiums before and decided to review our governing documents. What a mistake! I’m not sure when these were last updated, but in my review of the condominium documents, I came across a lot of, what appears to be, old and outdated language and a ton of conflicting provisions. I want to bring it up at our next board meeting but wanted to get some insight into how often you believe that condominium documents need to be updated.
-L.R., Boca Raton
A: Many associations deal with similar issues to the one that you are describing, whether they are older communities or ones that are brand new. Because condominium (and homeowner association) laws are updated and change regularly, whether through amendments to Florida Statutes or new case law, it is important to have your association attorney do regular reviews of your governing documents to make sure that your association is not running afoul of Florida law.
Associations operating under older, potentially outdated documents will likely spend more each year on legal fees and run into more legal problems than those with newer, updated documents. This is because, if an association is following documents that are ambiguous and may be contrary to current law, it is opening themselves and the association to potential liability that can come by way of one of Florida’s regulatory divisions or even by a disgruntled owner.
Frequently, flawed association documents will even impact associations that are newly turned over from a developer. Developer-prepared documents often have boilerplate language that has never been reviewed by the developer’s attorney to comply with current law. In addition, these developer-prepared documents are prepared in a way that benefits the developer, not the owners. So, whether you live in a community that is a decade old or a newly constructed one, an association should always have its attorney review the governing documents to determine whether they should be updated or not.
Without knowing what is in your current association’s documents, I would definitely recommend that you have your board speak to your attorney to perform a full review of the documents to make sure that they comply with current condominium laws.
Harris B. Katz, Esq.., is Managing Partner, Boca Raton, of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.