COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS & WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN DEALING WITH UNRULY RESIDENTS: A LITIGATOR’S PERSPECTIVE

By Lauren S. Josephson

In Florida, a condominium or residential community association, through its board of directors, has the right and obligation to establish and enforce certain rules and regulations in order to maintain a safe, secure and peaceful residential community. In determining what actions you, as an owner within a residential community may take, you may want to glance at your association’s governing documents, rules, and regulations in addition to those actions permitted by law.

The following outline addresses the possible remedies available to an association and the typical process and procedure in pursuing a disciplinary action against an unruly resident:

1. Implementation of a Fine or Suspension of Certain Use Rights. An Association has the right in accordance with § 720.305(2)(b), Fla. Stat. to levy a fine against a violator in an amount not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per violation (after written 14 days’ notice and an opportunity of a hearing before a committee founded by the board of directors). Additionally, depending on the governing documents, the association may be permitted to implement a fine each day that said violation occurs (not to exceed $1000) in which, at that point-in-time, the association would only be required to provide written notice one (1) time, as opposed to numerous times; however, it would be noted as one continuing violation rather than a second or third, etc., violation.

2. Failure to Timely Pay a Fine May Result in a Personal Claim Against You. In addition, and depending on your association’s governing documents, the association may be entitled to levy a lien against a resident’s home in the event of default.

3. Suspension of Access and Use from Certain Common Facilities. Upon implementation of a suspension, any additional attempt made by the unruly resident to access a suspended area could result in a finding of an unlawful trespass upon the association’s property in which the association could pursue a criminal and/or civil action against the resident.

4. Depending on the Nature of the Unruly Resident’s Action(s), file a Report with the Relevant Law Enforcement Agency. In addition to the remedies mentioned above, the board of directors or any other resident harmed by another resident’s violation should consider filing a report which provides that the unruly resident has or is acting as a public nuisance, in which the claim may then be picked up by the State Attorney’s office who has the power to pursue a criminal charge against the unruly resident.

5. File a Civil Nuisance Action and Seek Injunctive Relief if Necessary. Injunctive relief may be granted by a court’s order in the event a resident’s actions have been determined to constitute a nuisance. Such an order which grants injunctive relief may require the unruly resident to adhere to and abide by the association’s governing documents and the laws of the State of Florida. A subsequent violation of the unruly resident may result in a determination that the subsequent action is a direct violation of the court’s order and, therefore, the unruly resident may be found in contempt of court. A finding of contempt could subject the unruly resident to additional fines and penalties from the association, and more importantly, penalties rendered directly from the court as a violation of the court’s order. One must be aware of and cautious of the fact that, in the event a person is found in contempt of court, the penalty for contempt of court can, at the court’s discretion, include incarceration of the violator.

Lauren S. Josephson, Associate Salvatori, Wood, Buckel, Carmichael & Lottes

Practice Areas

  • Civil Litigation
  • Business Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction Litigation
  • Community Association Law

Lauren Josephson’s practice focuses on civil litigation, business litigation, commercial litigation, construction litigation, and community association law.  Mrs. Josephson is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.

Bar Admissions:
2012, Florida
2013, U.S. Court, Middle District of Florida

Education:
Ave Maria School of Law (J.D., 2012)
Florida Gulf Coast University (B.A., 2007, magna cum laude)

Professional Activities and Experience:
Florida Bar Association, Member
Collier County Bar Association, Member
Collier County Women’s Bar Association, Member
Florida Council Against Sexual Violence

Salvatori, Wood, Buckel,
Carmichael & Lottes
239.552.4100
www.swbcl.com

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