Florida Rising Magazine FRM March 2019 - Page 11

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Kaye Bender Rembaum presents Rembaum’s Association Roundup

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES – THE NEED FOR STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH FINING NOTICE REQUIREMENTS

The ability to impose a fine on an owner who has violated the conditions and regulations of a community association is one of the tools an association may use to bring about compliance with its governing documents. Notwithstanding the provisions regarding the fining process that may be set out in the association’s governing documents, the association must also follow the fining procedures as provided by Chapters 718, 719, and 720 of the Florida Statutes, governing condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations, respectively. Particularly, these fining procedures require that the association’s board of directors provide the violator with at least 14 days’ written notice to appear at a hearing before an impartial committee prior to imposing any fine. However, what if only 13 days’ written notice is provided to the violator? Surely, one day less would make no difference, especially where the violator has failed to respond to multiple requests for correction of the violation? But, it does make a tremendous difference, as the homeowners’ association in the case of Dwork v. Executive Estates of Boynton Beach Homeowners Association, Inc., decided by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, learned the hard way.

In this case, the owner’s property needed maintenance and repairs to its roof, driveway, and fence, which are the responsibility of the owner pursuant to the association’s governing documents. The association gave the owner numerous notices providing the owner with multiple opportunities to conduct the necessary maintenance and repairs in order to avoid the imposition of fines. Despite the association’s efforts, the owner ignored the association’s many notices.

As a result, the board sent the owner a written notice informing the owner that, in 13 days, a hearing would take place before the association’s fining committee to consider the owner’s maintenance violations. At the hearing, the committee voted to approve the fine for each of the owner’s violations, which was thereafter imposed by the board. Written notice of the imposition of the fines was sent to the owner.