Here is a case that may give associations some degree of consternation. I think it should because it supports permanent injunctive relief against an association to comply with its governing documents when managing or maintaining a surface water management system / stormwater management system. This case, discussed below, would extend beyond a surface water management system to any covenant in the governing documents.
In Coconut Creek Homeowner’s Association, Inc. v. Gonzalez, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1045a (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), a homeowner sued her homeowner’s association for failing to manage the association’s surface water management system. The homeowner sued the association for breach of the governing documents (Declaration, bylaws, etc.) and for a permanent / mandatory injunction to compel the association to comply with its governing documents to fix the swales and drainage system (common elements owned by the association). The lack of management of the surface water management system caused flooding problems and damage to the homeowner’s home.
The jury found that the association breached its governing documents in failing to manage the surface water management system, but awarded the homeowner $0 caused by the breach associated with her claimed damages. But, the trial court, as affirmed by the appellate court, granted a mandatory / permanent injunction against the association to enforce restrictive covenants in the governing documents. Specifically, the injunctive relief was issued to order the association to fix the swales and drainage system and comply with its governing documents.
Now, the association perhaps thought this was not all that bad because it did not owe the homeowner any monetary damages based on the jury’s verdict of $0. However, the appellate court found that because the homeowner prevailed on the significant issues of her case, she is entitled to her attorney’s fees and costs. Thus, a mandatory / permanent injunction is issued against the association requiring it to comply with the governing documents and it is liable for the homeowner’s attorney’s fees and costs, which are likely significant after a trial. Please check out this article for more information relating to the attorney’s fees aspect of this case.
If you live in a community governed by an association (whether a homeowner’s association or condominium association), make sure you seek counsel that appreciates the issues associated with your governing documents. And, an association needs to likewise consider the issues so it understands its responsibilities under the governing documents and potential outcomes associated with owner disputes.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.