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What is a limited common element in a community association?

Limited common elements in community associations are defined by Florida Statutes as those common elements which are reserved for the use of a certain unit or units to the exclusion of all other units. These limited common elements are set forth in the declaration of condominium. Generally, the owner of a condo unit that enjoys use of such limited common element must pay assessments related to that limited common element.

For example, parking spaces and even boat slips may be considered limited common elements, and assessments may be collected for the maintenance of these limited common elements. Limited common elements are not able to be separated from the unit to which it is assigned. In other words, it cannot be transferred separately and apart from the transfer of the unit to which the limited common element is assigned. HOWEVER, if the declaration of condominium permits, then the unit owner can grant exclusive rights to use the limited common elements without requiring a transfer of the condominium unit itself. Therefore, it's VERY important to study the condominium documents.

In one case, a seller owned two condominium units, one which had a dock and boat slip (Unit 1).  They sold the other unit (Unit 2), purportedly with the dock and boat slip attached to Unit 1.  Later, they sold Unit 1.  The Second District Court of Appeal, which is the appellate court in which Collier County sits, held that the rightful owner of the boat dock was the owner of Unit 1 because the original owner had no right to sell or convey ownership of the boat dock separately from Unit 1.  Sinatra v. Bussel, 119 So. 3d 473 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013).

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This post was contributed by Holly Rice, the associate attorney at Lanier & Deifik, P.A.

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