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FLORIDA CONDO LIVING PART 3 - CONDOMINIUM OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION

12:24 PM, Posted by Editorial Staff, No Comment

A condominium is a form of real property ownership in which an individual owns a unit exclusively and owns common elements jointly with all other unit owners in the condominium. Condominiums come in many sizes, shapes, and forms. Condominiums may be created at the time of initial construction or by converting previously existing apartments, townhouses, and hotels/motels to the condominium form of ownership. Other examples of condominiums include mobile home sites, recreational vehicle sites, boat docks, and office parks.

Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, commonly known as the Condominium Act, and the corresponding administrative rules found in Chapters 61B-15 through 61B-24, Florida Administrative Code, are the basis for the information in this series and apply only to the condominium form of ownership.

Common elements are those portions of the condominium property which are not included in the units. All unit owners share ownership of the common elements in an undivided manner. The structure of the building including the roof, walls, conduit and hallways, and recreation facilities are examples of items that are usually part of the common elements. Common elements are legally attached to each unit and are transferred with the unit when it is sold. Therefore, a deed to a unit conveys the unit to a purchaser together with its proportionate ownership interest in the common elements.

The development and creation of a condominium is a technical and possibly lengthy process. In addition to business and construction considerations, a developer must also draft the condominium documents that at a minimum include a declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation of the association, and the association’s bylaws. The documents, which must comply with the Condominium Act, contain restrictions on the use of the property as well as the mechanism and procedures under which unit owners will eventually operate the condominium. Thus, the developer makes many important decisions relating to the future operation of the condominium before any units are sold.

THE ASSOCIATION

The operation of a condominium is carried out through its association, usually a not-for-profit corporation. Association members are those persons owning units in the condominium. The association manages and operates the condominium community, maintains the common elements, and provides services in furtherance of its duties to the members. Each purchaser, by accepting title to his or her unit, automatically becomes an association member, and is bound by the association rules and regulations.

Condominiums are often compared to governmental entities. The condominium association has powers and responsibilities that are similar to those of local governments. An association must establish a budget that addresses the estimated operating expenses for the current period, set aside funds for future maintenance projects, collect assessments to pay for the common expenses, and must enforce its rules and regulations. The association may also amend its documents relating to the use, maintenance, and appearance of units and the common elements.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS


The board of directors, initially appointed by the developer and subsequently elected by the unit owners, is responsible for managing the affairs of the association. The board may appoint committees to assist with the various duties of the association. Often such committees include a Bylaws Committee, Budget Committee, and Grounds Committee. Effective committees are important to a well-run condominium association because they help the board carry out its powers and duties.

A director is expected to carry out his or her powers and duties, as any other ordinarily prudent person would do under reasonably similar circumstances. Directors have a fiduciary relationship with the unit owners, and have the responsibility to act with the highest degree of good faith and to place the interests of the unit owners above the personal interests of the directors. Although the board of directors is essentially the decision-making body for the condominium, the association’s effectiveness rests primarily with its membership -- the unit owners.

For an association to be successful, unit owners must take an active part by serving in leadership positions on the board of directors and/or its committees, attending association meetings, voting, and assisting in other affairs of the association whenever possible. These roles are essential to an association’s success. Apathy on the part of the unit owners will render an association ineffective.

Each unit owner has the right to be informed and have a voice in the operation of the condominium. For this reason, Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, requires each condominium association to hold an annual meeting of its unit owners, provide adequate notice of meetings, allow unit owner participation at meetings, conduct elections, permit unit owner inspection of the official records of the association, and prepare and distribute a year-end financial report to the members. These are just some of the requirements that unit owners can expect to be fulfilled by an association’s board of directors.

MANAGEMENT

The day-to-day management of the condominium property is one of the most important association functions. While the documents provide an outline for orderly operation, real-life operation can be a vastly different experience. It is the board’s duty and responsibility to determine the association’s needs, limited by the association’s fiscal resources. An association may hire a professional management group or a licensed individual. Each association must determine its individual needs.

The person or group hired to assist the board of directors is required to be licensed, as a Community Association Manager, (CAM) under Part VIII, Chapter 468 of the Florida Statutes, known as the Community Association Management Law. This law is administered by the Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulations.

For information concerning licensure and regulation of community association managers call (850) 487-1395. The hiring of a manager to administer the day-to-day operational functions of an association does not relieve the board from the responsibility to ensure the association complies with the Condominium Act and the Division’s administrative rules.

PART 1 INTRODUCTION
PART 2 GLOSSARY OF CONDOMINIUM TERMS
PART 3 CONDOMINIUM OWNERSHIP & OPERATION
PART 4 RESTRICTIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES
PART 5 PROTECTIONS FOR UNIT OWNERS
PART 6 THE FLORIDA DBPR ROLE

Enjoy this educational series and feel free to send your questions and comments to:
The Condo Communicator
Keywords
St. Augustine Shores Homeowner Association
St. Augustine Shores, Shores Service Corporation
St. Augustine Shores Condominium
Conquistador Condominium, Greens Condominium
Greens II Condominium, Fairview Condominium
Casa Bella Condominium, St. Augustine Shores News



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