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Learn Your Rights as Owner of Condo, Co-op or HOA Property

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Ownership of Property Governed by a Condominium, Cooperative or Homeowners’ Association Carries Significant Responsibilities. 

Gary A. Poliakoff, J.D.  and Jennifer Bales Drake both interviewed on Fox Business News.  Click HERE to watch Gary Poliakoff.  Click HERE to watch Jennifer Bales Drake.

Owning property governed by a community association carries responsibilities in addition to privileges.  Among other things, owners bear responsibility for the costs associated with maintenance, repair, replacement and protection of the common property and facilities as well as administration of the Association.

Mr. Poliakoff explains how important it is for buyers to research the financial status of the Association before purchasing a property in a “Shared Ownership Community” or “SOC”, which is the term used in his new book, New Neighborhoods: The Consumer’s Guide to Condominium, Co-Op and HOA Living.   The interview also includes comments relative to the housing market, especially with regard to the impact of lending criteria by government sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Ms. Drake explains the pitfalls of leasing residential property in the current foreclosure market to Fox Business News’ co-anchors Dagen McDowell and Brian Sullivan in the interview posted above.  Bank foreclosures are responsible for significant losses of revenue to community associations throughout Florida and nationwide.

The more owners understand the obligations associated with ownership and occupancy of a residence within a shared ownership community the better.   Community leaders are, for the most part, owners as well.   Minimizing disputes that can become quite costly and aggravating for everyone involved is especially important in this economy, as community leaders need to focus on streamlining operations, reducing expenses and handling delinquencies.


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  • John Proffitt
    September 8, 2009

    What recent article posted referenced the right of condo owners to all information regarding cost related to condo operations?

  • A. Mendiez
    September 12, 2009

    Are there any legal differences in the definitions of a condominium and an attached villa? Does the ownership of the property define any legal difference? FL Statues differ for condominiums and homes.

  • margherita
    September 20, 2009

    how the research the financial status of a association?

  • kharla
    September 24, 2009

    Are the Condo Associations required by FL law to furnish copies of unsigned contracts to unit owners for the purpose of decision making on the unit owner’s part?

  • Dominick
    September 26, 2009

    I am the owner of my Condo Unit I received a letter from the Board that they want their name to appear on my insurance policy as co -insured are they correct in requesting this or is it a ploy for them to get to use my policy to cover some of the work that their policy won’t pay?.
    As it stands they are responsible for the building and the common grounds, I’m responsible for all work done inside my unit and my policy is underwritten as such. We have a sinkhole problem in some areas, my building was inspected by the Condo’s Insurer and after inspection The inspector told me my building and the common grounds around my unit is good and I have no sinkhole problems.
    They The Condo association is tying to get our policies so that they can use it to have another inspection regarding sinkholes because their policy will not re-do the inspections.
    Please advise me thak you.

  • David Alexander
    November 13, 2009

    I own and live in a condo unit in So Calif. When I purchased the unit almost 30 years ago the legal papers and deed specified that my parking space in the garage was part of my lot and that I own the land. I am a smoker and 2 times a day, usually late in the evening, I sit in my car and have a cigarette due to my wife being a non smoker and having a 7 year old son. I recently have received a letter from the management company that there is no smoking allowed in the garage and I will be fined $25.00 a day for violating this new rule. Since I am sitting in my car parked on my property do they have the right to do this? Also I was never notified of or took part in any vote by the owners concerning this new rule. I respect the rule for all the other common areas and only smoke sitting in my car. Can this be considered a violation of my rights or considered discrimination? I know smoking is bad for you but I am a light smoker and must have some rights as an owner?

  • Joseph A. Fadel
    January 6, 2010

    I am the owner a parking space, uncovered, on ground level in the building where I also own a condominium unit. The space was purchased a few years after purchasing my unit. At that time, a small tree, approximately 15 feet in height (one of several planted along the perimeter of the property) existed. Over the course of the years the tree along with the others grew in size. The condo association regularly has them trimmed every six months once they reach a height of about 45 feet. Pigeons roost on these trees daily and their droppings fall on my car hood and roof. The condo management refuses to cut this one tree back further alleging it would deform its growth. Do I have rights to the air above my parking space? Can the condo association be compelled to cut the tree back more regularly so that its branches do not extend over my parking space and thus avoid the pigeon droppings? Never when I purchased the parking space did I envision this problem with the tree branches and the pigeon droppings.
    ed The tree abutting my parking space but these trees grow prodigiously. grew and exceeds

  • Debbie
    February 11, 2010

    What is the legal status of entry interviews for potential condo buyers in Florida? Can a Board legally do this?
    RESPONSE: The procedures used by the Association with regard to transfers of ownership (generally in case of a sale) or occupancy (generally in case of a lease) are determined by the governing documents of the community.

  • James A. Johnson
    March 17, 2010

    Can an owner-in a bundled golf community ( combo of condos & single family homes ) request/receive copies of Master Assn employee salaries as a matter of law?
    Thank you,
    Jim Johnson

  • Tiffany
    May 20, 2010

    I live in a condo association in Florida. Need to know if the Association has the right to keep the community pool closed. And when you call them to get updates they say they dont know when it will be fixed.
    Can I request a copy of the service estimate of repairs?
    RESPONSE: Section 718.111(12), Florida Statutes specifically gives condo owners the right to see the official records of the association, including bids or contracts for repairs. As a condo owner you also have the right to attend and participate at any board meetings.

  • m keck
    October 15, 2010

    I own a share in a co-op but no longer own the house. do i still have rights sense they still have the 55000 i invested in the coop

  • James
    May 17, 2011

    Good afternoon, I have a motorcycle and I want to install a anchor so that it can be held down with a chain. Is that ok, there are nothing in the condo’s bylaws stating against it?
    RESPONSE: There are too many undisclosed factors here to consider. Where do you want to install this anchor? The vast majority of condominium documents prohibit any changes to the common elements without the board’s advance approval.

  • Diane M
    June 29, 2011

    I live in a Florida condo w/on-site management. The current management contract expires Aug 2011 & I have requested to see a copy of the new contract that was submitted to the board at the last meeting. I was told I could not have a copy. As an owner, do I have a right to view this document? Does Florida Sunshine Law cover condo owners rights to view legal documents of the association? Under what Florida code/statute can I find out more about our legal rights?
    Thank you!
    RESPONSE: Personnel records are not open to inspection. The statute was amended this year to enable owners to inspect any written employment agreements with association employees. You may contact the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes to report a violation of the official records requirements of the statute. You can also contact the Ombudsman’s office – although that office has limited staff and funds.