Does your Declaration of Condominium still refer to Chapter 711 as the Florida Condominium Act? Well, maybe it is not that old, but perhaps it has been a decade since it has been revised. If that is the case, then it may be time to amend the governing documents to ensure that they include the most recent amendments to the Condominium Act and address changes in your community’s needs which have developed over time.
Section 718.110(1)(a), Florida Statute, provides that if a declaration fails to provide a method of amending the document, it may be amended, as to most matters, if the amendment is approved by owners of not less than two-thirds (2/3rd) of the units. There are two major exceptions, however. First, changing any appurtenances to the unit or changing an owner’s percentage share in the common expenses requires the approval of all owners and all lienholders, unless the original declaration provides otherwise. Second, an association cannot amend a declaration to create timeshares without the approval of the all owners and all lienholders, unless the original declaration provides otherwise.
Now that you know the basics of an amendment, lets discuss “why” in terms of a growing issue in Florida (i.e., short term rentals). If the goal is to amend the declaration to address the onslaught of short term rentals popping up with more and more frequency in condominiums, Section 718.110(13) must be considered. This statute provides that any amendment prohibiting owners from renting their units, altering the duration of the rental term, or limiting the number of times owners are entitled to rent will only apply to owners who agree to the amendment and to owners who purchase their unit after the effective date of the amendment. The amendment however limited it seems now, may be prudent today nonetheless. Why? Because it may take a bit for the new restrictions to apply to all owners and those short term rental investors while gaining momentum are still in the minority.
Amendments should not be taken lightly. If an amendment is done incorrectly, it will be deemed void or invalid. Once you have ideas as to what your Association needs in light of what the governing documents provide, it is important to meet with the Association’s attorney to discuss these. The attorney can then advise of those changes which would be permitted and craft language aimed at meeting the Association’s needs harmonizing those with the Condominium Act.