Q: Our association has investigated many rentals and has found that many are unapproved despite the mandatory application process. Further, some renters cannot follow the rules despite multiple warnings. Our legal counsel has advised that we can impose fines and suspend the amenities privileges, but that has not been effective. Do you have any suggestions? We want to enforce the restrictions that these owners and renters accepted when they moved in.
A: There are certainly more enforcement tools at your disposal. First, you should have your association’s attorney review your documents with respect to the association’s eviction rights. Most community documents that are well-drafted and up to date have language that authorizes the association to evict unapproved or unruly tenants and recover the legal expenses incurred in the process. If your documents do not have this language, your board should consider amending the documents because most judges will hesitate to approve an eviction by an association without clear authority in the documents.
In addition to eviction, a condo association can demand that the unit owner and/or tenant participate in mandatory pre-suit arbitration. Arbitration is like an expedited lawsuit, but less formal and less expensive. This process, which is required by The Florida Condominium Act for many condominium disputes, forces the unit owner and/or tenant to spend legal and other fees to defend their position. In any event, the association in many of these instances cannot rely on the unit owner to take action. These enforcement tools are a must if the association wants to effectively enforce its rules and restrictions against difficult owners and tenants.