Appellate Court Confirms Right of Condominium Association Members to Cancel Cable Television Contracts Entered Into By Developer Prior to Turnover. Nontheless, exercising this right provided by Florida Law may not be so easy.
By now you probably heard that a Florida appellate court ruled a condominium association may use Section 718.302, Florida Statutes, to terminate a cable agreement entered into by the developer prior to turnover. Section 718.302, Florida Statutes, states that any contract made by a developer prior to turnover that provides for the “operation, maintenance, or management of a condominium association or property serving the unit owners of a condominium…may be cancelled by unit owners other than the developer…by concurrence of the owners of not less than 75% of the voting interests other than the voting interests owned by the developer…"
In Comcast of Florida, L.P. vs. L’Ambiance Beach Condominium Association, Inc., No. 4D08-2326 ,Comcast argued that cable agreements are not for the "operation, maintenance, or management" of the association or property serving the unit owners and thus, Section 718.302 did not apply. Comcast also argued that Section 718.115(d), Florida Statutes, which is specific to television programming, was the only statute that should apply to canceling cable agreements.
The court rejected Comcast’s arguments. The court concluded that because the agreement provided for cable television service for all unit owners, the cost was part of the monthly maintenance fee, and the service provider was required to service and maintain the cable television, the agreement was one for the “operation, maintenance, or management” of the cable television services. Therefore, the agreement could be cancelled by a vote of 75% of the voting interests.
This case is beneficial to condominium residents in several respects, primarily as a result of the issues concerning ownership, use and control of the wiring throughout the property.
Nonetheless, an association in the Naples area understands how difficult it is to actually effectuate termination. The Association must pay Comcast $10,000 a month on behalf of 330 units, when many of them are not occupied and the owners are not paying assessments or maintenance fees. While Comcast’s spokesperson said the company is reviewing the appellate decision, it did not necessarily agree that the decision applied statewide the Collier Citizen reported.
Another warning – look at the contract to see whether Florida Law even applies. Recently I have seen several contracts for television programming service (whether cable or satellite) and contracts for office equipment such as copiers and computers that contain what is known as a "choice of law" provision. This provision states that the contract is governed by the law of a particular jurisdiction (other than Florida) and any dispute regarding the contract (intending to include disputes over cancelation) must be brought and litigated in that jurisdiction.
Please let us know if you have questions regarding your contracts and do NOT sign any contract that is governed by law other than Florida Law.