Common areas are often desirable spaces or amenities that come with living in a condominium. They can be lobbies, party rooms, pools or rooftop gardens, though elevators, storage areas and hallways can also be common areas.
Whether they are fun or functional, common areas are owned by the condominium association, as opposed to the individuals who use them. As such, disputes can arise when it comes to control or use of these spaces. Below, we discuss three common problems involving common elements as well as what you can do to resolve them.
Defining a common area
Complications can arise when parties disagree over what is a common area. In accordance with state condominium laws, common areas or elements are areas outside individual units. Still, it can be confusing when it comes to spaces like attics or basements in a single building or when it comes to exclusive use common areas (limited common elements) such as balconies or parking spaces.
When in doubt, you should consult the declaration of condominium as well as a survey of the land that may be available.
Making changes to a common area
An association can make changes to common areas for any number of reasons. They might update the space, turn it into something else altogether or simply rearrange it. Owners may take issue with these changes and a dispute can arise.
However, understand that the association does not always need to secure an affirmative vote from owners before making these changes unless it deems the changes material or substantial.
Paying for common area maintenance
An association will use money from the collection of assessments paid by unit owners to cover maintenance, repair and other expenses related to common areas. This amount should be clearly stated in the declaration of condominium. Disputes can arise when owners disagree with assessment increases, special assessments or use of assessments.
In these situations, residents may decide to pursue administrative remedies or file a lawsuit if they believe the assessments are unlawful or being misused.
Legal guidance crucial for condo disputes
Any issue involving condominiums or other community associations has the potential to cause considerable stress and frustration. Thankfully, individuals do not need to resolve these issues alone. If you are involved in a dispute with a condo association or owner, you can work with an attorney experienced in Florida real estate laws who can help you fight for a fair outcome.