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Community Update

April 2020

In this Issue

With a growing number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases throughout Florida and Governor DeSantis having issued a state of emergency, many are wondering what can be done. This month’s edition is focused on providing community association boards and managers with strategies that they can employ to help combat the spread of the virus.

Know that your Becker attorney is here to support you during this unprecedented time. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together, we will get through this.

As COVID-19 introduces new challenges to the way we meet and work together, we must find ways to reduce risk in our communities. Our first article, COVID-19: Technology and Social Distancing,” discusses ways to promote social distancing in activities such as voting or satisfying document inspection requests.

Multifamily buildings and particularly high-rises are similar in some ways to stationary cruise ships: many have shared ductwork, common enclosed areas, and even food stations. Learn more in our second article, Condos, Cruise Ships and COVID-19: Surprising Commonalities.”

Our third article, COVID-19: Considerations for Community Associations with Employees,” provides tips that associations with employees can follow.

Lastly, COVID-19 Presents Unique Questions for Associations, explores what associations can do as the novel coronavirus prompts states of emergency on the federal, state and local levels.

If you have new members on your board or a new manager for your community and want them to be part of our Community Update, have them subscribe here:

We are thinking of you and wish you and your family safety in the days ahead.

Mark D. Friedman & Jay Roberts, Editors

Stay up to date with Becker’s dedicated resource page on COVID-19. We are updating the information on this site on a daily basis. All information is posted to educate and inform our clients but does not constitute specific legal advice for your community. Please consult your Becker attorney for questions specific to your own community.


Welcome to a new, regular, feature in CUP.   Each month, “THIS CASE by Jay Roberts” will highlight and discuss an appellate decision or arbitration opinion dealing with community association legal issues and briefly discuss the impact of the decision on communities in general. We hope you enjoy!

Chattel Shipping and Investment, Inc. v. Brickell Place Condominium Association, Inc.

481 So.2d 29 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1986)

By Jay Roberts

The Brickell Place Declaration of Condominium included a provision which precluded owners from enclosing their balconies without prior approval from the association. However, until 1981 the restriction had never been enforced and as many as 45 owners had enclosed their balconies without authorization. After learning that the balcony enclosures violated the City of Miami’s zoning ordinance, the association informed the owners that moving forward it would apply the prohibition on all future balcony enclosures, but take no action with respect to the existing balcony construction.

A unit owner, Chattel Shipping and Investment Inc., enclosed its balcony after the announcement of the association’s rule, and the association sought injunctive relief (having the court force someone to do something) to impose the restriction and remove the enclosure.  The owner’s argument was that the association was “selectively enforcing” the enclosure restriction against it.  Neither the trial court nor the appellate court sided with the unit owner – but why?

The Third District Court of Appeal clarified that selective enforcement is based on the concept of estoppel. Specifically, estoppel applies where “previous non-enforcement has led to expenditures made in justified reliance on the continuation of that policy.” The court reasoned that the principle of estoppel has no application where the association gives notice that only subsequent violations will be prohibited because in those instances there has been no reliance on the status quo of non-enforcement.

So, why does THIS CASE matter?  There could be instances in your community where certain covenants or rules have not been uniformly enforced in the past. THIS CASE stands for the proposition that an association can cutoff a potential selective enforcement argument by reaffirming the specific restriction and giving notice to the membership that the restriction will be uniformly enforced going forward.  That is the easy part.  The hard part is that you must follow through and uniformly enforce the restriction!   This type of board resolution should be drafted by your legal counsel so you do not inadvertently grandfather other violations that you may be attempting to enforce.

Question of the Month

Q: My condominium association board voted to close the swimming pool in late March due to the COVID-19 threat. A few days later Governor DeSantis signed the “Stay at Home” Order and specifically defined “swimming” as an essential activity. Does this mean that my condominium’s swimming pool closure is overturned by the Governor’s Order?

Shareholder David Muller discusses the answer to this and more.

Click here to read more!

Ask Congress to Include Community Associations in the Paycheck Protection Program!

The House and Senate are currently negotiating additional funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We support including community associations in the Paycheck Protection Program and you should too!

Click here to sign the petition!

Can They Do That?

Episode 15: Painting Over Stucco Cracks – “Can They Do That?” – Episode 15 is Live!

There are cracks in the stucco on the outside of my unit and my association wants to paint over it. It looks like it could be a more serious issue, but they say not to worry about it. Can they do that? Find out the answer in this month’s episode!

When it comes to association rules and bylaws, there seem to be more questions than answers. Becker’s video series, “Can They Do That?” tackles some of the unique problems that homeowners and renters face today. We answer questions, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. From service animals to nudists in your community, we get to the bottom of it and let you know – “Can They Do That?”

Don’t miss out on new episodes of “Can They Do That?”
Subscribe to Becker’s YouTube channel!

Did You Know?

Becker is now offering a FREE Online Board Certification Class for Board Members Only!

We hope you are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented time.  As a service to the community and industry, we are pleased to make our HOA/CONDO Board Member Certification class available to you online.

Please click here to watch the class and download the certificate of completion.  

When it is prudent to do so, we will resume in person classes.  Until then, be safe.  Should you have any questions in the interim, please reach out to your Becker attorney for assistance.