CAN A CONDO EVICT AN OWNER OR TENANT IN FLORIDA?
Updated: Oct 10
A Condominium Association (COA) is a corporate entity created to govern a common-interest apartment building or complex. The owners have separate ownership of their units and common ownership of the common areas such as the pools, elevators, and hallways. In Florida, COAs are governed by its governing documents and Florida’s Condominium Act, Florida Statutes chapter 718. The owners pay maintenance fees to the COA primarily to maintain the common areas.
The following will focus on whether a COA can evict owners or their tenants for violations of the COA’s governing documents.
A COA is not a landlord, so it does not have any inherent power to evict owners or tenants. Fla. Stat. § 718.303, however, provides that, “Each owner, tenant and other invitee […] is governed by, and must comply with the provisions of [Chapter 718], the declaration, the documents creating the association, and the association bylaws which are expressly incorporated into any lease of any unit.” Id.
Fla. Stat. § 718.303 also empowers a COA to issue fines to an owner or bring a legal action against an owner, tenant, or invitee, for failure to comply with the COA’s governing documents. Id. Fortunately, the COA cannot fine an owner a million dollars, but rather is limited to levying “$100 per violation, or $1000 in the aggregate.” Id. Nor can the COA issue fines or file a legal action without following the notice and procedural requirements of Florida’s Condominium Act.
As to whether a COA can evict an owner, the simple answer is that a COA cannot file a cause of action for Eviction under Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. In other words, a COA cannot. But a COA can place a lien on an owner’s unit for defaulting on any monetary obligation to the COA, whether accrued by an owner or its tenant. If the owner does not pay off the debt to the COA, and the COA fulfills the procedural requirements of Chapter 718, the COA can file a foreclosure action against the owner. If the unit is foreclosed on, the COA can recoup the owner’s debt from the proceeds of the sheriff’s sale of the foreclosed unit.
On the other hand, condo tenants are subject to an eviction by either the COA or the owner of the unit. That is, upon proper grounds. The COA can pursue an eviction if authorized by both its governing documents and the owner of the unit. For a COA to remove a tenant without the owner’s authorization, the COA would have to file an injunctive action to force the owner to remove the tenant. In some cases, the owner has already given the COA authorization by accepting such terms in the condo’s governing documents. The following are the scenarios that can lead to the eviction of a tenant in a condo.
If the owner of a leased unit fails to pay its monetary obligation to the COA, such as maintenance fees, or the owner fails to pay fines incurred for the tenant’s violation of the COA’s rules, the association may step into the owner-landlord’s shoes and make a written demand to the tenant to pay the amount owed. See Fla. Stat. § 718.116(11).
In other words, the COA can collect the tenant’s rental payments directly until the full amount owed by the owner is satisfied. Florida law, however, limits the amount the COA can demand from the tenant to the amount the tenant owes the owner. Fla. Sta. § 718.116(11)(c). That is to say, the COA cannot in effect raise the tenant’s rent. Florida law also requires that any rent paid to the COA by the tenant be credited against the rent owed to the landlord. Id.
If the COA sends a written demand pursuant to Fla. Sta. § 83.56 and the tenant fails to pay the COA, Fla. Stat. § 718.116(11)(d) allows the COA to file an eviction against the tenant pursuant to Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, as if the COA were the landlord. Id. This would require the owner’s authorization. If the owner refuses, the COA can file an ejectment action against the owner. But the tenant has no incentive to refuse the COA in the first place because the tenant would otherwise owe it to the landlord.
If, alternatively, the COA want to file suit against a tenant for injunctive relief or removal for non-monetary violations of the COA rules, the COA cannot proceed under Chapter 83 as a “landlord.” The COA will not have the benefit of the shortened timelines of proceeding under “summary procedure.” See Fla. Stat. § 51.011.
The most familiar scenario where a tenant in a condo can get evicted is by the owner-landlord for certain violations of Chapter 83, violations of the COA’s rules, or violations of the rental agreement such as not paying rent.
It may seem that tenants in condos are on wobbly grounds when it comes to the possibility of being evicted, but if a tenant has an unexpired lease agreement, the tenant has strong statutory and contractual protections. That is, so long as a tenant, like an owner, does not violate the rules or default on their payments.
Last updated: September 15, 2022.
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