A condominium’s declaration is a contract. As a unit owner, it serves as your contract and will govern your rights with your condominium association. Just like any contract, disputes arise between a unit owner and the association regarding the interpretation of the declaration. And, no different than any contract, the interpretation of a declaration is reviewed under a de novo standard of appellate review. See Lenzi v. The Regency Tower Ass’n, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1397a (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).
Lenzi serves as an example of a dispute involving a condominium unit owner and his association regarding the interpretation of a provision in the condominium’s declaration. In this case, the unit owner wanted the court to interpret a word used in the declaration restrictively, which the trial court rejected and the appellate court affirmed.
When it comes to terms in a declaration (or any contract), terms are to be given their plain and ordinary meaning such that terms are construed in their ordinary sense. See Lenzi, supra. Unless a specific word is a defined term in the declaration (or contract), words are to be construed by their generally understood definition. Id.
If you are in a dispute with your condominium association regarding a provision or the interpretation of your declaration, make sure to consult with counsel to make sure your interpretation or basis of your dispute is colorable.
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