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Board Can’t Prohibit Hurricane Shutters

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Q: Our condominium did a major renovation project several years ago, included impact glass for all the windows and sliders. Recently, our board received a request from an owner to install hurricane shutters. The board thinks this is unnecessary since we are already protected, and that shutters will detract from the look of our buildings. Can we refuse this request? (P.Q., via e-mail)

A: I don’t think so. Prior to 1991, Florida law permitted associations to prevent the installation of hurricane shutters, if authorized by the declaration of condominium. That year, the law was changed to state that a board could not deny a request to install shutters. That section of the law has been amended approximately 6 times since then, and unfortunately, with little regard for how the statute was already written.

The current law states that “a board may not refuse to approve the installation or replacement of hurricane shutters… conforming to the specifications adopted by the board.” The law also requires every condominium association to adopt hurricane shutters specifications, which “comply with or exceed the applicable building code” and which may include criteria on “color, style, and other factors deemed relevant by the board.”

Q: I live in a development with a homeowners’ association. Recently it was discovered that one of our board members was arrested for assault several years ago. It was my understanding that this would make that person ineligible to serve on the board. Is this correct? (N.R., via e-mail)

A: The Florida Homeowners’ Association Act does contain certain criteria which would disqualify an individual from serving on the board. Section 720.306(9)(b) of the statute states that a person who is delinquent in the payment of any fee, fine or other monetary obligation to the association is not eligible to seek election to the board. Additionally, any person who has been convicted of any felony in Florida or convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction, which would be considered a felony in Florida, is not eligible to run for the board, unless such persons civil rights have been restored for at least 5 years. The condominium statute contains similar provisions.

An arrest is not a disqualification. If your director was convicted of felony assault, he or she would not be eligible to have run for the seat.

Q: I am an owner in a condominium that has a no pet policy. There are two owners that currently have pets, which they claim have been approved by the board of directors. One of the owners claims that her dog is a “support” animal. The dog barks endlessly. Are there any restrictions that can be placed on support animals to address these types of noise issues? (D.L., via e-mail)

A. Support or “assistance” animals are becoming more frequent, arguably commonplace. The federal and Florida fair housing statutes require an association to make “reasonable accommodations” in its rules, policies, practices or services for handicapped persons in certain situations.

Properly documented support animals are exempt from restrictions on “pets” in the governing documents, including any rules relative to number, weight, size and breed. However, reasonable restrictions may be placed on support animals in a residential community.

Reasonable restrictions include those that provide that an animal not create a nuisance to others, which includes creating excessive noise (such as barking), aggressive behavior, the animal causing harm to persons or property, or the pet handler leaving pet waste on the property.

Support animals are permitted anywhere on the property that the handler is permitted. This includes the pool and clubhouse. However, the animal is not permitted inside the pool or in the kitchen in a facility where food is prepared.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.

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