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Unit Access for Common Element Repairs - Hollywood Towers Decision

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals recently announced its decision in Hollywood Towers Condominium Association, Inc. v. Hampton, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D1424a, June 23, 2010. As with many aging hi-rise condominiums in Florida, the reinforcing steel in the exterior balconies of the units at Hollywood Towers had deteriorated, requiring remedial work by the Association. The Association's consultant concluded that in order to repair the balcony problem demolition and repair would also have to be undertaken within the Hampton unit. Unit owner Hampton's engineer opined that the balcony could be repaired without an intrusion into the unit.

The Association sought a mandatory injunction allowing it to perform the remedial work within the unit. The circuit court refused to grant the injunction. The appellate court, adopting the reasoning of the California decision in Lamden v. La Jolla Shores Condominium Ass'n. ("where a community association board exercises discretion within the scope of its authority, courts should defer to the board's authority and presumed expertise") reversed, sending the matter back to the trial court for the following determinations:

 

1.         whether the association had the authority to access Hampton's unit to repair the balcony;

2.         assuming the first question was answered in the affirmative, whether the association had acted reasonably - - that is, not arbitrarily, capriciously or in bad faith - - in choosing to perform the repair work from inside Hampton's unit; and

3.         whether the Association would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were not granted.

 

The bottom line is that the mere fact that the unit owner's engineer disagrees with the Association's consultant will not block the work from proceeding. If the trial court finds a reasonable basis for the board of directors' conclusion that the work must proceed in the unit, the trial court will be obliged to grant the injunction.

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