BUT THEY WEREN’T SCREENED AND APPROVED!
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published March 29, 2021
I often times get phone calls from board members who are upset
about the fact that some new owner went through the screening
process, filled out the application, paid the fee and showed up
for an interview. But it turns out that there are more people
living in the unit than expected and none of them went through
the screening process! After all, doesn’t everybody who is
going to live in the unit have to be screened and approved,
except for children?
The screening, approval and denial process is often times
complex. As I always say, some boards think they have an
inherent right to screen, approve and reject potential buyers
and renters, simply because they are the board of directors.
They are wrong.
The ability to screen, approve and reject needs to be
specifically granted to the Board of Directors in the governing
documents. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the
docs have language that allows the board to screen, approve and
reject potential buyers of a unit. Now, let’s assume that the
buyer passes the background check with flying colors and is
welcomed into the community. A few days later, that buyer
brings in her boyfriend, parents, nieces and nephews. Do they
have to be screened and approved?
In my nearly 30 years of practice, it is extremely rare that I
find provisions of a declaration that would require everyone to
be screened. At best, the documents allow the “buyer” to be
screened and approved. In addition, there is always language in
a declaration that basically says: “the unit is to be used as a
single family residence by the owner, his or her family members,
invitees and social guests.” Reading all these provisions
together, it is clear that once that buyer is approved, that
buyer can bring in their family and guests into the condominium
or HOA without any of them going through the screening and
approval process. That’s right, a guy like Charles Manson may
have just slipped through the cracks because your documents were
not up to par.
And forget any argument that there really is not a “family”
living in the unit when the occupants are unrelated. The
definition of “family” is broadly defined and really includes
almost any people that are simply living together.
So, the tip for the day is……..if you want to ensure that every
occupant who will be living in the home or unit is screened and
approved, be clear and unambiguous about it in your governing
Review your governing documents carefully and make sure they say
what you think they say or want them to say. And to be safe,
get the advice of your association’s counsel so you don’t get
sued for trying to kick someone out that has every right to
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated from
the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for more than 2
decades and is the owner of Glazer
and Sachs, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples,
Fort Myers and Tampa.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host
of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs
at 11:00 a.m. each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
He 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 10,000
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 association members.