Material alterations to condo’s common elements typically require approval from condo owners
Michael Bogen devotes his legal practice to representing hundreds of condominium and homeowner associations. Bogen, who is admitted to practice law in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Nevada, also is admitted before the United States District Court in the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. He is assistant executive director of the Condo Council, which provides education to over 1,000 association members.
EMAIL: col[email protected] Law.com How long in real estate? 21 years What made you get into real estate? I love helping people to find homes, and sell them. What separates you from other Realtors? I work 24/7, I am always available to answer questions and show property. Which neighborhoods/areas are your specialties? Waterfront homes from Harbor Beach to Hillsboro Mile Describe your work- Q. We recently received a notice from our board of directors to paint the window frames on the exterior of our unit. All owners in our building received this notice. Isn’t the association supposed to paint everything on the outside of the building? A. If you are referring to maintenance painting, then I would have to review the association’s declaration to see who is responsibility for maintaining the window frames. I would suggest first looking at the “Maintenance” section of your association’s declaration. If the board wishes the owners to paint the exterior window frames a different color, then this generally would ing style: Always available What advice do you have for buyers? Look at everything in your price range so you can be educated in the area that you are looking in, so when you make an offer, you feel comfortable that you are not just jumping in without knowing the market. What advice do you have for sellers? When looking at offers that you are given, don’t be insulted if you think they are low. Just make a counter offer and don’t take it personally. require a prior owner vote to change the color. If the association does not have any section that deals with “alterations” or “material alterations” to the exterior of the building, Florida law states that 75 percent of the owners must approve the color change. The mostcommonprovisions I have seen in the declaration is a requirement that approval of a majority to 75 percent of the owners is required to make “material alterations” such as changes to the color of the exterior of the building. Q. An owner installed a camera on the exterior wall outside his unit and the camera also faces intomyback patio. Is this legal? Are you involved in any charitable organizations? 4KIDS of South Florida and Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I used to sing professionally. CALL Sandra Tagliamonte, One Sotheby’s International Realty, (954) 818-4219 • EMAIL staglia[email protected] onesothebysrealty.com • VISIT TagliamonteTeam. com A. Most likely it’s not recommend the working legal. Most asit out with the owner and sociation governing letting them know about documents prevent the your concerns. installation of a camera
Q. because such an installaOur condo balcotion has been deemed a nies need repairs “material alteration” to the due to the age of commonelements. Any the building. However, not time there is a “material all units have balconies. alteration” made to the The board is passing a commonelements, such special assessment to pay as an exterior wall of the for the balconies where building, approvals of all owners must pay the owners usually are regardless of whether or required. I would send a notwehave a balcony. Is certified letter to your asthis legal? sociation informing them
A. of the installation and a In most cases, letter to your neighbor balconies are telling them that the camconsidered part of era is intruding on your the limitedcommoneleprivacy. If the camera ments in a condominium. does not come down, I There are three types of would discuss this with a property that comprise community association the condominium: First, attorney. Before doing there are the “common any of the above, I always elements,” those parts GARRETT A. FOSTER DEBORAH DOCHERTY TRACY KOLODY ARIEL GONZALEZ TANYA PLATH of the condo property that are shared among all owners. For example, the roof is acommon element since the roof is shared by all owners. A lobby is considered part of thecommonelements because everyone uses the lobby. Second, is the part of the condo property that constitutes the condo units. The interior of a unit generally is considered “the unit” and not part of thecommonelements. Your carpet, paint, kitchen cabinets, and interior are all part of the unit. Third, “limitedcommon elements” are a part of thecommonelements used solely by either one or a few owners. In this case, wecan assume the balcony is part of the commonelements; however, 954-425-1642 954-425-1029 954-425-1695 954-425-1053 954-425-1517 the balcony is only used by the owner of the unit where the balcony is attached. No other owner can just come along and say that they will use your balcony. The general rule is that all owners share in the expense of repairing thecommonelements, including the limited commonelements. However, your declaration of condominiummayhave a clause requiring the owner to repair any of the limited commonelements that are attached to the unit, such as a balcony. I would recommend reviewing your declaration first and having a community association attorney review your association’s governing documents if you wish to pursue the issue further.