CALL NOW! 954-966-3909

LAW OFFICES OF HERB M. MILGRIM, P.A.
JOE DIMAGGIO BUILDING
4040 SHERIDAN STREET
HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA 33021
14
APR
2011

Are Homeowner Associations Going Too Far?

Many of us in Florida  choose to live in gated communities because we feel they are safe and because they provide some attractive amenities.   Are we sacrificing too much of our freedom for this security?   I was appalled  today to read about a 70 year old woman in California being fined by her Homeowner Association because she spends too much time in her garage.   Marilyn Weber is being fined because she uses her garage as “living space” in violation of the Association Rules.  Mrs. Weber is choosing to fight the Association but many of her neighbors are supporting her.  All she really is doing is spending her free time in her open garage and enjoying the many brief encounters with her neighbors that happen to pass by or stop by in a visit.  Since when did being neighborly become a crime?  Please read the story and feel free to comment below or to share some of your own stories involving your Association.

I recently wrote an article this past January titled:  Dealing with Homeowner’s Association Architectural Review Committees.  One of the things I pointed out is that many “Associations and  ACC committee members use their position of authority to exert their will over other owners.  This usually results in legal battles that can be costly for both the Association and the owners involved.”   I was in Court recently defending a Homeowner being sued by her Association because they didn’t like  her choice of building material on a small modification to a house she recently purchased.   Despite the fact that the Association Governing Documents didn’t expressly prohibit this particular type of building material the Association took legal action.   Moreover,  this Association failed to follow its own procedures for rejecting or approving the architectural modification.   The point is that the Association clearly had no right to make the claims raised in it’s lawsuit.  Despite all of this the Judge tried to make us feel bad for defending our rights.   While I understand that nobody wants to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars arguing about a modification that may only cost hundreds,  the fact remains that the Association filed the lawsuit which was clearly frivolous and subject to a claim under 57.105 of the Florida Statutes.  The case law on the issue states that  an Association cannot impose one style over another purely for aesthetic reasons absent some existing pattern or scheme to put purchasers on notice that one style will be allowed.

So, as owners what should you do?  Do you fight and spend thousands of dollars or give in and let yourself be bullied?   Perhaps we should all head for the hills…or I should say the woods.  There are plenty of places where you can live in some of the more remote locations in South Florida but even those rural areas are forming Associations with people ready to step in and bully you into submission.  As a trial attorney I never back down from a fight,  but it is important to pick your fights carefully!

If you are not sure of your rights seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that  represents condo owners and homeowners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight you, and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. You should not be forced to deal with experienced Property Managers and Attorneys without having someone fighting for you in your corner?

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association.  Herb Milgrim is a tough trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation.  You can call us and tell us about your case so we can help you weigh your options before jumping into a fight that could prove costly to both sides.  Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!

27
JAN
2011

Broward County Condo Attorney Can Help Defend Owners’ Rights

As a Broward County Condo Attorney with over 20 years in practice I have seen many examples of Associations failing to work with individual owners in order to resolve disputes.   Unfortunately many Board Members refuse to take action to resolve a dispute until they are faced with an attorney’s fee claim from the owner.  The Association will try to stall the claim or point the blame elsewhere until they are faced with an attorney representing the individual owner.

In Florida the most common claims are water damage cases resulting from the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements like a roof or common plumbing.  Other cases that can be difficult for individual owners are pet restriction disputes, interference with an owner’s right to sell or lease, and  harrasment  and mismanagement by the Board Members. A large  number of cases involve Homeowner Associations’ arbitrary use of Architectural Control Committees to deny owner requests for purely personal or aesthetic reasons.

Due to the central location of my office and the means of electronic communication I have been able to assist Condo owners and Homeowners all over Florida with an emphasis  in Palm Beach County, Miami Dade County and Broward County.

Call  a Condo Lawyer that represents owners. The Associations keep expensive law firms on retainer using your money.  Before you let months and years go by trying to deal with the Association on your own try leveling out the playing field with your own experienced Trial Attorney.   Call Now (954) 966-3900!

12
JAN
2011

Dealing with Homeowner’s Association Architectural Review Committees

As a Florida Condo Lawyer that primarily represents condo and homeowners that have disputes with their Associations, I frequently get calls from homeowners that are being threatened by their associations for violations of the Architectural Review Standards.  Some owners have applied for approval prospectively while others have already made the improvements and are now seeking retroactive approval.

While the new Florida Laws for Homeowner Associations may have gotten tougher, the authority of an association or committee to review or approve plans is permitted only to the extent that it is specifically stated in the declaration or other published guidelines or standards authorized by the declaration.  Section 720.3035 specifically addresses architectural control covenants and owners rights with regard to parcel improvements. This Florida law prohibits associations from restricting an owner from selecting from options provided in the declaration  or authorized standards.

If the Association has a restriction on a specific type of building material or modification written into their governing documents they must uniformly restrict the prohibited use or the owner faced with a rejected request for approval may claim Selective Enforcement.  This is a defense that is based upon an estoppel type argument.  Essentially, an Association is prohibited from attempting to enforce a covenant or restriction against one violator, while allowing  another  to continue violating the same restriction.  To put it another way, an Assocation may not arbitrarily enforce an otherwise valid restriction.  The main case dealing with selective enforcement by Florida Condo and Homeowner Associations is the Florida Supreme Court case of   White Egret Condominium, Inc. v. Franklin, 379 So 2d 346 (Fla 1979).    This case originated in Broward County Florida, but because of its importance, made it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.  The holding, in its simplest form states that an Association may not unequally or arbitrarily enforce an otherwise valid restriction even if the restriction was reasonably related to a lawful objective.

A problem usually arises when the declaration and/or guidelines are silent as to specific options such as color choice or the types of materials to use.  In a published opinion on appeal from a Brevard County Circuit Court ruling, the appellate court held that:

In absence of existing pattern or scheme of type of architecture in particular development which puts prospective purchaser on notice that only one kind of style will be allowed, either in recorded restrictions or de facto from modified building scheme built on subdivision, architecture boards do not have power or discretion to impose only one style over another, based purely on aesthetic concepts.

In the YOUNG case the homeowners desired to build a “flat roof” but the Association preferred the use of a “peaked roof” and refused to approve the owner’s request.  Many other issues have come up over the years. Some owners prefer wood fences over metal, or glass block over window pane, or wood doors over glass.  The bottom line here is that your association can’t refuse your request for ACC approval merely for aesthetic reasons unless there is already an existing pattern or scheme in place to support the use of one material over another.

Many Associations and  ACC committee members use their position of authority to exert their will over other owners.  This usually results in legal battles that can be costly for both the Association and the owners involved.   Don’t try to deal with the Association on your own.   If you are not sure of your rights seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that  represents condo owners and homeowners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight you, and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. You should not be forced to deal with experienced Property Managers and Attorneys without having someone fighting for you in your corner?

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association.  Herb Milgrim is a tough trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3900!

16
DEC
2010

Board Members that Threaten and Intimidate are Interfering with Owners’ Rights To Quiet Use and Enjoyment

As we approach the end of the year many Condominium and Homeowner Associations will be getting ready for their annual meetings. During these meetings the Board usually presents the community with a copy of the Annual Budget and elections are held to elect the members of the board.

If you have been having problems at your Condo or Homeowner Association with harassing board members, threats, intimidation or just bad decision making by your board, now is the time to start campaigning for a new board. In small communities you can simply talk with your neighbors or go door to door to discuss the situation. In larger Associations you may want to prepare a newsletter setting forth the various facts in support of your position that the Association would benefit from a new board.

As a Florida Attorney whose practice primarily involves representing Condo Owners and Home Owners that have disputes with their Associations I have heard many horror stories of Board Members going to extreme lengths to harass and intimidate the owners. I have represented owners that lost tenants because a Board Member repeatedly screamed at them and badmouthed the owner/landlord.  I have heard of Boards agreeing to allow Cellphone Towers on their building without ever taking a vote of membership and presumably getting some type of kickback.  I know of a Board President that owns one unit but resides in another unit rented from the Association at a drastically reduced rent and then goes ahead and does short term rentals of her owned unit at a substantial profit and in violation of the declaration that only allows one renter every 12 months. I have a pile of Association Official Records that were torn up in an attempt to destroy them  at the request of a Board President after a record’s request was made on a matter that was headed for litigation. We would have never found this out if they weren’t dumb enough to throw them in the community trash bin for everyone to see.  I have had disabled clients threatened and intimidated for their right to have an emotional support animal only to find out that the threatening Board Member allowed their own renter to keep a pet in violation of the Association’s no pet policy for renters.

Don’t live in fear of board members whose only justification very being on a board is to bully people and exercise their own unsatisfied lust for power.  Run for the Board youself or help campaign for a new board.  If that doesn’t work and your right to the quiet use and enjoyment of your home is being interfered with it may be time to contact an attorney that represents and fights for Condo Owners.

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association.  Herb Milgrim is a tough trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3900!

17
AUG
2010

Hiring a Florida Condo Lawyer

In Florida many condo owners and homeowners have problems with their Associations and other owners but aren’t sure if they should hire a lawyer. This post is designed to assist condo owners and homeowners in making that decision.

Florida condo owners and homeowners are routinely faced with many problems related to condominium law, the Florida Condominium Act, HOA issues, disaster recovery, hurricane claims, water and mold damage damage due to association’s failure to maintain common elements, injury claims in common areas, covenant enforcement, illegal budget increases, selective enforcement claims, improper leasing restrictions, tortious interference with owner’s right to sell or rent, pet restrictions, interference with an owner’s quiet use and enjoyment, noise complaints, harassment by board members and property management, architectural review claims, and improper use of funds by board members, just to name a few.

It is important to understand that Condo Associations and Homeowner Associations in Florida keep expensive attorneys on retainer using your maintenance dues. While you may be able to resolve some matters by yourself  it is difficult for an individual owner to deal with stubborn board members or slick defense attorneys without legal representation of their own.  If your matter is serious it may be necessary for you to retain an experienced trial attorney to help you resolve the problem in the most efficient manner. It is important that the Florida Attorney you decide to hire specializes in representing owners in their claims against their associations. Many condo attorneys in South Florida say they represent owners when the majority of their work is for Associations. As a Trial Attorney with over 20 years of experience I choose not represent Associations.  I only represent individuals. Half of my practice involves representing condo owners and homeowners resolve their disputes against their associations and the other half of my practice involves representing individuals that have been seriously injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. I have been approached by Associations but decided long ago not to represent them in order to keep the battle lines clear.

If you decide to hire an attorney to represent you in your dispute against your association here are some things to consider. Almost all cases are handled on an hourly basis. What that means is that you pay the attorney for all of his or her time spent dealing with your case. The attorney should keep accurate time records showing what they did and how much time they spent doing it. You will most likely have to provide the attorney with an amount to be kept in Trust as a Retainer. Some attorneys will make the retainer non-refundable while others allow it to be refundable. The attorney should send you a monthly statement itemizing his time and charges. Usually you will be asked to replenish the retainer which is like a security deposit for a month of the attorney’s time.

If your case is going to involve litigation the attorney’s time will be significantly greater. It is important to be totally up front with your attorney about the facts and circumstances surrounding your case so that he can help you decide on the best course of action. If your attorney successfully resolves your case against the association you may be entitled to reimbursement for your attorney’s fees and costs from the association.

The Law Offices of Herb Milgrim, P.A. has over 20 years of extensive legal experience. We serve the legal needs of individual Condominium owners, Home owners and Cooperative owners in resolving disputes with their Associations throughout Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, including Hollywood, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, North Miami, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach with two convenient office locations in Hollywood Florida and Boca Raton Florida.

We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action.

Call us now at 954-966-3900.

22
JUL
2010

Should I Sue My Condo Association?

I have handled many cases in Florida  for condo owners,  homeowners and co-op owners that have claims against their associations.  These cases are all handled on an hourly billing basis.  Some cases settle with a strongly worded letter but others require a series of letters and  litigation.  This can get expensive for the condo or homeowner with limited resources.  Unfortunately,  associations pay their lawyers with dues that come from the other owners. In other cases the association law firm is being paid by the insurance company.  While the association resources are not unlimited they  can fight longer than the individual owner.  A good attorney that specializes in representing owners should always try  to convince the association that  they should resolve the case amicably because the longer they fight the more they will ultimately pay.  Many association Boards have been voted down after advising the owners that they paid out thousands of dollars after losing an owner lawsuit.

I caution my clients that even though we always try to resolve these matters quickly they need to be prepared for a fight.   I rarely pursue litigation against Condo or Homeowner Associations unless we have a winnable case.  In roof leak or water damage  claims based upon the Condo Association’s failure to maintain the common elements,  the condo association has a non-delegable duty and has very few defenses to our case.  Likewise in dealing with pet restriction cases where the association’s discriminatory practices have failed to make reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act the assocation is exposed to compensatory and punitive damages along with paying my client’s attorney fees.  Despite this there are many condo and homeowner associations in south florida that either fail to seek out proper legal advice or simply ignore the relevant facts and applicable laws.  As a result many cases that should be resolved quickly take much longer than expected.  While these cases usually result in the association paying out a larger sum for damages and attorney fees, the delay often puts additional stress on the client both mentally and financially.  Condo owners and homeowners contemplating litigation against their associations need to be prepared for this before filing suit against their association.  The worst thing is for the client to exhaust their resources and fail to follow through on a winnable case.

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that specializes in representing Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association.   We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action.

Remember that the Associations keep expensive Law Firms on retainer using your money. Before you try and fight the Association you should contact us to get a free case evaluation.  We serve the legal needs of condo owners, homeowners and co-op owners throughout Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, including Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, North Miami, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach with two convenient office locations in Hollywood Florida and Boca Raton Florida.  Call us now at 954-966-3900.

05
JUL
2010

Condo Lawyer Discusses Owners’ Rights

Condo owners, homeowners and co-op owners in Florida all have the right to the quiet use and enjoyment of their homes.

How many of you hosted a party or attended a party this Holiday Weekend? Probably a good majority of you did. There may have been music, loud guests and maybe even some fireworks. For those of you that didn’t do either, were you affected by those that did? Did any of you have to call security about noise complaints or guests parking in your spots?

All of these questions have to do with an owner’s right to quiet use and enjoyment. As a Florida Condo Owner, Homeowner or Co-op Owner you all have the right to the quiet use and enjoyment of your home. Does  that mean you should immediately call security or even the police if somebody else is making noise? Remember that most of us living in South Florida reside in a community run by an Association. Obviously Condominiums are the most extreme because we are all stacked up on top of one another. But even single family homes in planned communities face these issues. Most single family homes are built on zero lot lines putting us on top of our neighbors. The point is whether you live in a high rise condominium building, townhouse or single family home, unless you live out in the woods, you need to be considerate of your neighbors and tolerant.

The right to quiet use and enjoyment can involve many different things. I have represented condo owners in Aventura Florida that were affected by the “clickety clack” of the owners above them because the Association was selectively enforcing a rule that required special sound proofing for owners desiring to install wood or marble flooring in high rise buildings. I resolved  a claim against a Hollywood Florida Condo Association because the rooftop generator was not properly insulated and was making so much noise that the residents could not sleep at night. I represented a townhouse owner in Boca Raton and brought a claim against the Homeowners’ Association claiming they failed to maintain the common elements after a townhouse sale was approved to a young college student who proceeded to have parties every night with loud college students in a quiet residential community. The problem was that the Association did not do all it could to stop the college parties from going on after hours. The Association needed to bring the offending owner to grievence and file for injunctive relief if that was not successful. Ultimately the Assocation forced the offending owners to sell but not before compensating my client for her inconvenience and reimbursing her for my attorney’s fees and expenses.

Since we have just finished a holiday weekend I chose to write about loud parties. If you are having a party with many guests direct them where to park or arrange ahead of time for valet parking. Nobody wants to come home from a long day at work and find cars parked on their lawn or in their assigned parking space. Likewise, if you are the one affected, don’t call security after the first problem. Try talking with your neighbors instead.

One of the best examples I can give you is this. I live in a community of single family homes.  Our community is on the water so land is at a premium. Most homes are large but on zero lot lines so when you are  in your back yard you can hear others nearby. One day we all received a letter that was placed in our mailboxes. It was from  2 teenage brothers who live around the corner. They advised they were graduating high school and were planning on having a party. They wrote that they were inviting friends over and would be playing  music and that it might get loud. They invited any of us to let them know ahead of time if that would be a problem or, if things got too loud during the party, to simply give them a call and let them know rather than calling security or the police. They indicated that there would just be a bunch of high school kids letting off some steam after a long school year. That night I let my dogs out  a little after midnight and I heard their party. There was loud music like they had warned and I could hear young teenagers acting in a very loud and boisterous manner. If I had not been warned ahead of time I would have said to myself that they were being rude and inconsiderate. Because of their letter, however, I simply smiled and said to myself how nice it must be to be a teenager. In fact, the party went off without anybody complaining despite the fact that it was very loud and went on well after midnight on a tuesday night.

We can all take a lesson from these 2 teenage boys.  We need to be considerate of our neighbors but also tolerant of each other. If you can’t then you should not live in a condominium or planned community. Get a cabin out in the woods were you won’t bother anybody and nobody will bother you.

If you have been considerate and tolerant of your neighbors and despite this they continue to interfere with your right to quiet use and enjoyment and your association has failed to get them to correct the problem then you need  to consult with a Florida Condo Lawyer that specializes in representing owners. There are many attorneys in Florida that specialize in condo law but most of them represent Associations and will only take your case if there is no conflict of interest with the Associations they represent. Wouldn’t you rather hire an experienced Trial Attorney that specializes in represnting owners?

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A,  is a Florida Law Firm that specializes in representing  Homeowners, Condo Owners and Co-op Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association.  We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action.

Remember that the Associations keep expensive Law Firms on retainer using your money. Before you try and fight the Association you should contact us to get a free case evaluationCall us now at 954-966-3900.

23
JUN
2010

How Long Do I Have To File Suit Against My Condo Association?

As a Florida Condo Lawyer specializing in representing owners in disputes against their associations I often get asked “how long do I have to file suit against my condo association?”  Many condo owners and homeowners have claims against their associations for “water damage and mold damage damage due to association’s failure to maintain common elements, injury claims in common areas, covenant enforcement,  illegal budget increases, selective enforcement claims, improper leasing restrictions, tortious interference with owner’s right to sell or rent, pet restrictions, interference with an owner’s quiet use and enjoyment, noise complaints, harrasment by board members and property management, architectural review claims, and improper use of funds by board members.”

Before we even look to Florida Statutes Section 95.11  we first need to determine under what theory of law we will be proceeding.  Are we bringing a negligence case or some other type of tort or are we bringing an action based on a contract or written instrument.  Most condo owners, homeowners and cooperative owners thinking of suing their association believe they are bringing a negligence or tort based claim.  While it may be true that the owner’s damages were caused by the negligence of the Association Board Members or Property Management,  as long as there is a provision in the Governing Documents addressing the obligation of the Association then the cause of action is for a breach of the Governing Documents.

Section 95.11(2)(b) provides for a 5 year limitation period for a “legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability founded on a written instrument….”

(See, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0095/titl0095.htm)

The limitations period for negligence claims is 4 years.  A good attorney will make sure to style the cause of action as a Breach of Contract Action against the Association to take advantage of the longer limitation’s period as well as the prevailing party attorney’s fee provisions in the condo declaration.  It is always important to keep these limitations in mind and consult with a Florida Condo Lawyer  that specializes in representing condo owners.

25
MAY
2010

Condominium Association Failure to Maintain Common Elements-(part 1)

In deciding whether to file a lawsuit against your Condominium Association or Homeowner’s Association, one of the most powerful claims that can be raised is the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements.

For Condominium Associations governed by Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, Section 718.113(1) provides in material part the following: “Maintenance of the common elements is the responsibility of the association.”  For Homeowner’s  Associations governed by Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, Section 720.303(1) also provides that maintenance of the common elements is the responsibility of the association.

Neither Condo Owners or Homeowners are required to arbitrate their claim of failure to maintain the common elements. Condo Owners do not have to go through any type of Alternative Dispute Resolution if their claim is based upon the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements. They may proceed directly with the filing of a lawsuit in the appropriate State Court in the County where the Association is located.  Note: Homeowners governed by Chapter 720 must first comply with the Presuit Demand for Mandatory Non-binding Mediation before filing suit otherwise they may forfeit the right to claim attorney’s fees and costs.

Many Associations have provisions in the Governing Documents defining the Common Elements and making the Association responsible for maintaining them. Usually these provisions are found in the Association’s Declaration. Although each Association may have different provisions, the majority of Condo Associations declare that everything beyond the drywall of the individual units is deemed to be common elements. Some of the typical common elements include, the roof of the building;  pipes, wires, conduits, or other public utility lines running through the individual unit which serve more than one unit. Some associations require the Condo owner to maintain the plumbing and electrical that is inside their unit- some do not. It is important for a condo owner to have an experienced Florida Condominium Lawyer review the documents to determine whether the issue concerns the common elements as they are defined in the Governing Documents or if the Condo Owner is responsible for maintaining the condition at issue.

Some of the significant types of claims concerning the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements include water damage from roof leaks, mold damage, fire from faulty electrical, noise complaints from roof top generators, inadequate water cooling towers causing unit owner air conditioning to malfunction, and of course there are the obvious claims like a resident or guest being injured due to inadequate security or a dangerous condition in the common areas of the building. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to an Association’s failure to maintain the common elements and want more information about getting an experienced Florida Trial Attorney to take your case on a contingency basis please click here.  (be sure to click one of the links on the upper right of this page to suscribe to this feed so that you don’t miss part 2 of this article or any future articles)  

20
MAY
2010

Florida Condo Attorney Discusses Alternative Dispute Resolution

*You should always consult with a Florida Law Firm that specializes in representing condo owners when contemplating a lawsuit or when faced with the threat of a lawsuit by your condo or homeowner’s association.

Alternative dispute resolution (A.D.R.) is discussed in  § 718.1255 of the Florida Statutes dealing with Condominiums.  A.D.R.  is used to resolve a case without having to file a lawsuit. Since lawsuits are expensive and time consuming the Courts favor the resolution of disputes amicably. In fact, with  Condo claims, nonbinding arbitration is mandatory and if you file suit without first pursuing your remedies in arbitration the Judge will be required to dismiss your case. Therefor it is important for owners of Condominiums and Coops to first determine whether their claims are subject to Arbitration or Litigation before they attempt to file a lawsuit.  (This topic will be discussed more fully in a later post to sucribe to future posts click here.)

One of the main differences between the statutes governing Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) and Condominium Associations (COA’s) is that before suit may be filed against an HOA the owner must send out an OFFER TO PARTICIPATE IN PRE-SUIT MEDIATION PURSUANT TO FLA. STAT. § 720.311 (2)(b). This demand to resolve the dispute through presuit mediation is required before a lawsuit can be filed concerning the dispute. Pursuant to the statute, the parties are required to engage in presuit mediation with a neutral third party mediator in order to attempt to resolve this dispute without court action, and the aggrieved party demands that you likewise agree to this process. If you either side fails to participate in the mediation process, suit may be brought without further warning.  Moreover, the party failing to participate in mediation is precluded from recovering fees or costs in any litigation or arbitration proceeding involving those issues.

The process of mediation involves a supervised negotiation process in which a trained neutral third party mediator meets with both parties and assists them in exploring possible opportunities for resolving part or all of the dispute. By agreeing to participate in presuit mediation, you are not bound in any way to change your position. Furthermore, the mediator has no authority to make any decisions in this matter or to determine who is right or wrong and merely acts as a facilitator to ensure that each party understands the position of the other party and that all options for reasonable settlement are fully explored.

If you have been sent a request to attend pre-suit mediation or are contemplating litigation against your Association you should first consult with an experienced Florida Condominium Law Firm. When choosing a Law Firm make sure that they do not also represent Associations as there could be the potential for conflicts of interest to arise.   The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., specializes in representing owners in disputes with their associations. We do not represent Associations.

If you would like to get directions to our offices you can view our profile on Google Maps.

 

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