Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Should more be expected from unit owners?

When you look at any of the common interest ownership statutes, not a lot is written about what is expected from owners living in private residential communities other than timely payment of their assessments.

You won't find a single sentence obligating owners to actually show up for meetings, you would be hard pressed to find anything requiring them to run for the board or volunteer for a committee. Absolutely nothing is written about individual maintenance responsibilities for units or lots as that is typically outlined in the governing documents. There is no guidance or threat of punishment from the State should an owner destroy association documents, harass association employees or generally become a nuisance to neighbors.

Up until recently, there wasn't even a reason for an owner to engage in regular maintenance for certain items in the unit if they could be passed off as needing replacement due to storm damage. Fortunately, Section 718.111(11) of the Condominium Act was amended to provide that a unit owner is responsible for the costs of any portion of the condominium property not paid for by insurance proceeds if such damage is caused by the intentional conduct, negligence or failure to comply with the terms of the declaration or association rules by a unit owner or members of such owner's family, his or her unit's occupants, tenants, guests or invitees. Moreover, this section of the Act was further amended to provide that an association is not obligated to pay for reconstruction or repairs of casualty losses as a common expense if the casualty losses were known or should have been known to a unit owner and were not reported to the association until after the association's insurance claim was settled, resolved with finality or it was denied as untimely filed.

While this is a good start, the question remains whether the State should more clearly articulate what is expected of owners living in common interest ownership communities in order to ensure harmony.

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