Florida Condo Association Disputes - Pre-Litigation Requirements
Attempt to Resolve- Fla. St. Ch. 718.1255 requires a unit owner to submit a letter offering resolution, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and regular mail, to the registered agent of the association. The registered agent can be found on www.sunbiz.org
- The letter must identify the issues to be addressed, the resolution sought, and notice that if the matter is not resolved a petition for arbitration pursuant to 718.1255 will be submitted to the Department of Business and Professional Regulations.
Waiting for a Reply- Unlike the Homeowner Association Act, the Condo Act does not provide a statutory period for a reply. It is customary to allow twenty (20) days (compatible with the Homeowner Association Act) or thirty (30) days
Tip- If the association is willing you can suggest mediation
Non-Binding Arbitration- If the association is not willing to resolve the issues, the next step is to petition the Department of Business and Professional Regulations ("DBPR") for non-binding arbitration
- Like any litigation, you can represent yourself or a spouse pro se, but not anyone else; however, it is best to have the assistance or representation of a lawyer to ensure your case is not dismissed for inadequate pleading
- There is a $50 filing fee
- The petition must include proof of compliance with the requirements to attempt resolution prior to submitting a petition
- DBPR may order mediation if the arbitrator believes it will be helpful
Trial De Novo- If arbitration is not successful and the parties do not agree the arbitration is binding, either party can petition for a trial de novo
- The decision of the arbitrator is admissible as evidence
- The prevailing party is entitled to attorneys' fees and costs, including those of arbitration.
Things to Know"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.