Florida Condominium Lawyer Discusses Arbitration v. Litigation

Before considering filing suit  against your  Condominium or Homeowner’s Association you must first determine whether your issue needs to be arbitrated before a panel of arbitrators or can be decided by a Judge or Jury.  Florida Statutes §718.1255 for Condominiums and  § 720.311 for Homeowner’s Associations provides  the procedures and conditions for Alternative Dispute Resolution and filing suit against an Association. 

Condo owners that want to litigate a “dispute” involving their Association must first engage in Mandatory Nonbinding Arbitration.  §718.1255  defines disputes as “any disagreement between two or more parties that invloves:

(a)  The authority of the board of directors, under this chapter or association document to:

1.  Require any owner to take any action, or not to take any action, involving that owner’s unit or the appurtenances thereto.

2.  Alter or add to a common area or element.

(b)  The failure of a governing body, when required by this chapter or an association document, to:

1.  Properly conduct elections.

2.  Give adequate notice of meetings or other actions.

3.  Properly conduct meetings.

4.  Allow inspection of books and records.

“Dispute” does not include any disagreement that primarily involves: title to any unit or common element; the interpretation or enforcement of any warranty; the levy of a fee or assessment, or the collection of an assessment levied against a party; the eviction or other removal of a tenant from a unit; alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by one or more directors; or claims for damages to a unit based upon the alleged failure of the association to maintain the common elements or condominium property. You may file suit

If your claim falls within the statutory definition of a “dispute” then you must first proceed with Mandatory Nonbinding Arbitration.  If you file suit first on a “dispute” the Court will be required to dismiss your action.  One of the claims that does not need to be arbitrated is the claim that the association failed to maintain the common elements. This is a very strong and powerful claim because the Association’s duty  cannot be delegated to someone else like a roofing contractor or management company.  This topic will be discussed more fully in a later post. To avoid missing any later articles please make sure to suscribe to this feed.

The Deptartment of Business and Professional Responsibilities Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes or, the Division for short has some helpful information on its website.

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