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Florida Condominium Law: Declaration of Condominium

Posted on: January 18, 2013

The Declaration of Condominium is an extremely important condominium document. The declaration as originally recorded or as amended may include covenants and restrictions concerning the use, occupancy, and transfer of the units permitted by law with reference to real property. (Fl. St. § 718.104). Buyers should be aware of any covenants or restrictions in their condominium documents.

In Sun Harbor Homeowner’s Association, Inc. v. Bonura, 95 So. 3d 262 (Fla. 4th DCA Sept. 7, 2012), Sun Harbor HOA appealed a final judgment in favor of homeowner, Vincent Bonura. Despite Sun Harbor’s “no dogs allowed” policy, Bonura owned and resided in a Sun Harbor townhouse with his fiancée and her dog. A 1997 amendment to the Declaration of Covenants expressly prohibited dogs in Sun Harbor. Bonura did not reside in Sun Harbor until well after the Amendment was passed. Sun Harbor filed a complaint against Bonura seeking declaratory relief with respect to whether the presence of his fiancée’s dog on the premises was a violation of the Sun Harbor’s Declaration of Covenants. Sun Harbor also sought removal of the dog via injunction.

Bonura responded that his fiancée was entitled to have an emotional therapy dog because she suffered from a disability. Further, Bonura counterclaimed that Sun Harbor’s actions violated the Florida and Federal Fair Housing Acts. To succeed in his counterclaim, Bonura was required to prove: his fiancée’s handicap; Sun Harbor’s knowledge of the handicap; that an accommodation may be necessary for his fiancée to use and enjoy the dwelling; that the accommodation is reasonable; and Sun Harbor refused to make the requested accommodation.

The court concluded that Bonura failed to establish his fiancée had a handicap, that Sun Harbor knew the extent of the handicap, or that Sun Harbor refused to make a reasonable accommodation. The court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of Sun Harbor.

Condominiums in Florida are highly regulated by both the Florida Condominium Act and the condominium’s controlling documents, such as the Declaration of Condominium.  The attorneys at Schecter Law are well equipped to handle the entire spectrum of matters that may be implicated by Florida condominium law. Whether you are a unit owner, or association board member, our attorneys are prepared to assist you in finding creative, cost-effective solutions to your condominium related issues.