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01/03/13 It's The Law: Condo Hurricane Protection Can Be Tricky

It's The Law

Condominium Hurricane Protection Can Be Tricky

(01/03/13)

Question:

Hi, my condo complex board decided to let everyone change-out their sliding doors and windows to hurricane proof type, only for the owners that wanted them. Now they are talking about forcing the rest of the owners to this upgrade. My question is can the condo board vote on that or should all of the owners be allowed to vote on this… Thank you. Love your articles in the paper.

Answer:

Florida Statutes Section 718.113(5) addresses your issue. That statute was adopted in 1992 and addresses hurricane shutters. Prior to adoption of the statute, an association could have actually prohibited installation of hurricane shutters as a material alteration to the common elements or exterior of the building. The statute now mandates approval under certain conditions.

The board of directors of each condominium association is required to adopt hurricane shutter specification. Specifications must include color, style and other factors deemed relevant by the board. Specifications must comply with any applicable building code.

The statute also authorizes the board to install hurricane protection, but only if approved by a majority of voting interests of the condominium. If the majority approves, the board may install hurricane shutters, impact glass or other code compliant windows or hurricane protection that complies with or exceeds the applicable building code. A vote of owners is not required if maintenance, repair or replacement of hurricane shutters, impact glass or other code compliant windows are responsibility of the association pursuant to the declaration of condominium. If hurricane protection or laminated glass or window film architecturally designed to function as hurricane protection which complies with or exceeds current applicable building code has been previously installed, the board may not install hurricane shutters, hurricane protection or impact glass or code compliant windows except upon approval by a majority vote of the voting interests.

The association is responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of hurricane protection under the statute if such protection is the responsibility of the association under the declaration of condominium. If the declaration makes unit owners responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement, the statute mandates that owners comply with the declaration. It gets a bit bumpy when a unit owner has already installed hurricane protection. If an owner has already installed hurricane protection which meets current code, the board may not install hurricane shutters or other hurricane protection for that unit.

Florida Statutes Section 718.115(1)(e) also impacts this area. That section reconfirms that the party responsible for installation, replacement, operation, repair and maintenance bears the expense. If it is common expense, it is collected from all unit owners. If it is the owner’s expense, the cost of installing hurricane shutters or the hurricane protection is charged to the unit owner based on the cost of installation to the particular unit. But, a unit owner who has previously installed hurricane shutters in accordance with the statute or other hurricane protection which meets current applicable building code receives a credit equal to the pro rata portion of the assessed installation cost assigned to each unit. The owner is still responsible for the pro rata share of expenses for hurricane protection installed on common elements and association property.

The short answer to your question is the board, alone, can adopt specifications that would allow unit owners to change-out doors and windows to hurricane proof type. The board, alone, cannot mandate installation. The mandate requires a majority vote of unit owners. And, other details may be impacted by specific wording of your declaration of condominium. For that reason, you should review the facts of your situation and your condominium documents with an experienced condominium attorney.

By: William G. Morris, Esquire

William G. Morris is an attorney with offices at 247 North Collier Boulevard on Marco Island, Florida. His practice covers a broad range of subjects, including civil litigation, real estate, business and corporate law, estate planning and probate, domestic relations and contracts. He writes this column periodically with respect to legal matters that frequently affect non-lawyers. The information contained in this column is not intended as legal advice and, of necessity, is generalized. For questions about specific circumstances, the reader should consult a qualified attorney.

Questions for this column can be sent to: William G. Morris, e-mail: wgmorrislaw@embarqmail.com or by fax, (239) 642-0722 or

The Marco Island Eagle

Other articles of interest can be viewed at our website, www.wgmorris.com.

Categories: Articles