Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cancelling the cable contract just got easier

Last week, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the ability of a condominium association to terminate a cable agreement entered into by its developer. Section 718.302 of the Condominium Act provides that "any contract made by an association prior to assumption of control of the association by unit owners other than the developer, that provides for the operation, maintenance, or management of a condominium association or property serving the unit owners of a condominium shall be fair and reasonable, and such grant, reservation or contract may be cancelled by unit owners other than developer: (a)...by concurrence of the owners of not less than 75% of the voting interests other than the voting interests owned by the developer..."

In the case of Comcast of Florida, L.P. vs. L'Ambiance Beach Condominium Association, Inc. No. 4D08-2326 (FL 4th DCA August 26, 2009), the Appellate Court affirmed a Broward County trial court decision that allowed a condominium association to use Section 718.302 to terminate a cable agreement that the developer had entered into prior to turnover. Comcast had argued that its cable agreement did not fit within 718.302's category of a contract for the "operation, maintenance or management" of the association and thus, the owners could not rely on 718.302 to cancel the cable agreement. Moreover, Comcast hoped that the court would agree that Section 718.115(d) of the Condominium Act which provides specifically that cable agreements may be terminated after execution at the next regular or special meeting of the association by at least a majority of those members present would apply to the exclusion of 718.302. Neither the trial court nor the appellate court agreed with Comcast's arguments.

While cable television providers will undoubtedly be dismayed by this turn of events, the L'Ambiance decision is a significant tool for condominium associations looking to cancel cable agreements made by their developers pre-transition. This ruling does NOT apply to HOA's or to cable agreements that the condominium association entered into itself post-transition. Please speak to your association attorney if your community wishes to cancel a cable agreement that was chosen for you by your developer.

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