Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published January 28, 2009
With so much going on in
the world of condominium and homeowner associations, I've put together
some news you should know about your most asked-about topics.
Is the Legislature going to repeal the law requiring condo owners to
provide proof of hazard and liability insurance?
It looks that way, but there are no guarantees.
Right now the law states
associations shall require each owner to provide evidence of a currently
effective policy upon request, but not more than once per year. If a unit
owner fails to acquire the insurance or provide proof within 30 days after
delivery of a written request from the association, it may purchase a
policy on behalf of an owner. That money may then be collected from the
owner, like an assessment.
Bills to repeal those requirements have been filed by Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff,
Dennis Jones, R-Seminole. Bogdanoff admits she is not sure that is
what ultimately should be done. "There seems to be a lot of push back
from unit owners about mandatory insurance," she said. "I have
real concerns about a complete repeal, but it's important to stir the
debate and start the conversation."
In the meantime, she says, keep in mind the law does not require
associations to enforce this law. But she knows some attorneys are
advising associations to act or face possible liability lawsuits.
Her suggested compromise: Pass a law that allows unit owners to vote on
whether to require the insurance and make sure those communities that vote
no cannot be held liable. "And if you have 100 units and 99 owners
vote yes, the one unit owner should not be able to compromise the
Bogdanoff also says she believes it is likely Florida legislators will
repeal the requirement to name an association as an additional insured
What do you think should be done?
Do I really have to give my association
a key to my condo?
It's not completely clear. Florida statutes
spell out that associations have an "irrevocable right of
access" to units during reasonable hours for the maintenance, repair
and replacement of any common elements, or, the portion of a unit that the
declaration says will be maintained by the association.
"It would be reasonable for an association to ask for a key,"
said Jean Winters, a Palm Beach County attorney who represents unit
owners and associations. "However, the law is not clear that an
association can require a unit owner to provide a key. The statute
provides the right of access but does not specify the manner of
She also cautions the statute should not be interpreted to say
associations can access your condo on a whim or otherwise abuse your right
In other words, if water or smoke is pouring out of your unit and you're
not home, the association would certainly be right to enter in order to
protect common property. But an association should not try to extend the
law to allow neighbors to enter your unit to make sure you keep it nice
If you believe your association is abusing its right of access, Winters
suggested hiring an attorney, calling the state Office of the Condominium
Ombudsman or filing a complaint with the Department of Business and
Professional Regulation, which oversees condos. "Or do all of the
above," Winters said.
How can I make sure legislators
hear my concerns?
Look for public events aimed at doing just that. A
number of groups — pro-association and pro-unit owner — are hosting
A town hall meeting for those in homeowner and condo association
communities is scheduled for Saturday in Boca Raton. It will run from 1 to
5 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University's Live Oak Pavilion (Grand Palm
Room), 777 Glades Road. For information, go to www.ccfj.net.
Panel members scheduled to attend include state Reps. Julio Robaina,
R-Miami, Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, Franklin Sands, D-Weston, and
Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach.
Vasquez can be reached at:
or at 954-356-4558 (Broward) or 561-243-6686 (Palm
Beach County). His condo column runs every Wednesday in the Local
section and at www.sunsentinel.com/condos.
You also can read his consumer column every Monday in Your Money and at www.sunsentinel.com/vasquez