BECAUSE ITíS YOUR HOME OR UNIT DOESNíT
ITíS YOURS TO DO AS YOU PLEASE
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published March 16, 2015
So you just bought your new condo unit or home and you
want to make the place look great.
Or, you have been living in your unit or home for what
seems like forever and itís time for one of those complete
makeovers. How far
can you go without getting association approval, and/or approval
from your local municipality?
Letís start by stating that in general, almost anything
you do is going to require that a permit is pulled.
This applies for the installation of new cabinetry, the
relocation of plumbing, any electrical wiring, the installation
of new flooring and almost anything else you can imagine, absent
a paint job.
Often times, if the municipality is unsure as to whether
or not your intended modification involves the common elements
of the association, the municipality will require that you also
submit written approval from the association.
So why wonít the association approve your request to
spruce up the joint? Often
times itís because owners seek to remove common element and/or
load bearing walls, the
plumbing will be modified and interrupted as to other units, the
floor is being installed without the proper sound proofing or
the change will be seen from the exterior of the property.
Sometimes, the association wonít allow you to make the
change because you are actually attempting to change common
element property and not your own.
Several years ago, I represented an ocean-front
condominium in Broward. One ownerís balcony faced the pool
deck and ocean but was located 22 inches above the pool deck.
This owner got tired of walking through the hallways,
past the elevators and mailboxes to get to the pool.
He had a better idea.
He decided to get a chain saw and slice apart the common
element balcony railing and turn it into a swinging gate,
without first getting authorization from the association.
Now, he and his wife would simply hop down 22 inches to
get to the pool deck and at the end of the day hop up 22 inches
from the pool deck to get back to their balcony and get home.
The association was outraged and ordered that I do
something about it. I
filed an arbitration suit and won.
The arbitrator told the owner to repair the gate.
The owner appealed and asked for a trial in Circuit
Court. After a
trial, the judge ordered the owner to repair the gate. The owner
appealed. A three
judge appellate panel ordered the owner to put the gate back.
The owner then tried to appeal to The Florida Supreme
Court, which decided not to hear the case. At each stage of
these proceedings, attorneyís fees were awardable.
One day, the owner went to his bank account, and it
simply wasnít there any longer.
I had garnished it. All
because he didnít get permission to make that modification
beforehand. Had he
asked first, he would have learned that he canít modify the
Donít let that happen to you.
Review your governing documents before you make repairs
or modifications to your unit or home.
Pull the permits if required.
The alternative can be much more costly.
HOA & Condo Blog
Glazer graduated from the University of Miami School of
Law in 1992 after receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has
law for more than 2
and is the owner of Glazer and Associates, P.A. a seven eight
attorney law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and
firm also has satellite offices in Tampa and Fort Myers.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze and
HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show on 850 WFTL.
is the first attorney in the State of Florida that designed a
course that certifies condominium residents as eligible to serve
on a condominium Board of Directors and has now certified more
than 8,000 Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a
Circuit Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has
mediated dozens of disputes between associations and unit
owners. Eric also devotes significant time to advancing
legislation in the best interest of Florida community