The Declaration of Condominium “Says what It Says”
There are lawsuits that don’t make sense. They just don’t. Granted, we do not know all of the ins-and-outs of the lawsuit, but the facts described in the case give an aura of irrationalness by one of the parties. Here is one – in what appears to be a condominium association taking an unreasonable position giving the unit owner no choice but to sue.
In Cool Spaze, LLC v. Boca View Condominium Association, Inc., 45 Fla. L. Weekly D165a (Fla. 4th DCA 2020), a purchaser bought a unit in a condominium. He transferred the unit to a limited liability company he created. He was then going to lease the unit. The association’s Declaration of Condominium provided that the association has to approve all “leases, subleases, or other occupation of a Unit before lease, sublease, or occupation shall be valid and effective.”
The owner submitted lease applications under the name of the limited liability company (since the limited liability company owned the unit). The association rejected the leases because the association did not get to approve the transfer of the unit from the purchaser to his limited liability company. So, the limited liability company did what it should do – it sued the association for declaratory relief, among other claims. Yes, this lawsuit started because the association felt that it needed to approve a purchaser’s transfer of a unit. Why? I have no clue. Maybe there are reasonable reasons, but why would the association care if a purchaser transferred a unit to a company the purchaser created, which by no means is uncommon.
While the association seemed to prevail at the trial court, the appellate court reversed in favor of the unit owner. The Declaration—“which strictly governs the respective duties and responsibilities between the association and the unit owners”—must be strictly construed. See Cool Spaze, supra. The Declaration mentioned nothing about needing to approve such unit transfers. The Declaration “says what it says.”
Please contact David Adelstein at [email protected] or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.