big number of arbitration cases over “material alterations”
is a clear sign that these two simple words can cause a lot of
havoc. One would think that the two words “material” and
“alteration” would be self-explanatory. That’s clearly not
the case, as every community association lawyer can tell you.
And even arbitrators and judges don’t always agree with each
actual explanation in simple English would be: Change of
material – right? But it seems nothing is easy in community
his “Handbook” former Condo Ombudsman
gave this explanation – hoping to explain these two seemingly
problematic words in layman’s terms:
alteration of the common elements is covered by
Statutes Section 718.113(2) and permitted in a manner provided
in the Declaration of Condominium. If the Declaration
is silent regarding material alterations, an affirmative vote of
75% of unit owners is required.
A material alteration or
addition means to palpably or perceptively vary or change
the form, shape, elements or specifications of a building from
its original design, plan, or existing condition, in such a
manner as to appreciably affect or influence its function, use
easy – does it? In reality it isn’t – mark my words.
see only too often that board members think they can just change
the carpet floor and replace the carpet with tiles. Huge
mistake, especially if just one of the owners doesn’t like
tiles – and the fight is on. In many cases it’s not only the
legal fees causing serious financial damage to the association;
it’s as well the fact that most complaints are only filed
after the work is done and the money spent.
reason for creating the requirement of members’ approval is
pretty obvious: People bought their home after looking at the
surroundings of their new home – and the way things look when
they buy their home.
Let’s say a potential buyer is impressed with the nice red
carpet in the hallways. He/she buys the unit relying on being
always greeted by a plush red carpet in the hallway. One day
some board members feel that carpets are quickly used up by the
heavy traffic in the hallway and opt to replace the fading
carpet with Spanish tiles. It might be a smart financial
decision in the long run, but a violation of the Florida
statutes in the eyes of the red carpet-lover. And the war is on!
you think that “material alterations” should require a