By Lauren Odom
Due to the nature of condominium living, each condominium has (1) its own set of tailored rules that govern daily life (hereafter referenced as the “Governing Documents”); and (2) a Florida statute dedicated to condominiums. Each condominium’s main Governing Document is called a “declaration of condominium,” (hereafter referenced as a “Declaration”). The Declaration is generally drafted by the condominium developer’s attorney and dictates the terms by which the association and each unit owner is bound. A tenant should be aware that he/she is generally bound by the terms of the Declaration. Thus, in addition to reviewing the terms of his/her lease agreement, the tenant should also review the Declaration and any other Governing Document prior to entering tenancy with the landlord.
In addition to the above general background on condominiums, below are a few items that tenants should be aware of prior to entering a lease agreement:
- What if the tenant’s landlord is delinquent in his/her assessment dues to the association?
If the landlord is delinquent in his/her assessments, the association generally has the authority to require a tenant to pay his/her rent directly to the association. In the event of the foregoing, the landlord forfeits all rights to collect the tenant’s rent money. Thus, a tenant is not obligated to pay rent to the association and to the landlord simultaneously. Also, the maximum amount an association can require a tenant to pay monthly is one month’s rent, as defined in the respective lease agreement.
- Can the condominium association require the tenant to pay a security deposit?
Sometimes a lease will provide that the tenant is obligated, in addition to paying a security deposit to the landlord, to pay a security deposit to the association. Condominium associations only have the authority to impose this additional security deposit requirement on a tenant if the authority is so given in the Declaration. If the Declaration provides this authority to the association, the maximum amount an association can charge a tenant for such a security deposit is one month’s rent, as defined in the respective lease agreement. Further, if the association elects to impose a claim on a tenant’s security deposit, the association generally must follow the same statutory procedures, as detailed by section 83, Florida Statutes.
- If a maintenance issue arises, is it the association’s, the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility to address?
As background, the Declaration defines a condominium unit’s geographical parameters and defines who has the responsibility to maintain, repair, and insure parts of the condominium within the unit, appurtenant to the unit, and outside the unit. Generally, the unit itself and the landlord’s personal property within the unit are the landlord’s responsibility to maintain, repair and insure. The tenant’s personal property within the unit is his/her responsibility to maintain, repair and insure. Anything in the condominium that is not part of the unit, as defined in the Declaration, is generally the association’s responsibility. While the Declaration defines each parties’ responsibility as to maintenance, repair and insurance, if a maintenance event arises out of a party’s negligence, the negligent party generally has the obligation to pay for the repair, overriding the responsibility delegated in the Declaration. Prior to move-in the tenant should do the following:
- Review the portion of the Declaration which defines what is part of the unit, what is not part of the unit, and who has the responsibility to maintain, repair, and insure each respective part.
- Please note though that while the above is the norm, the tenant should review the Declaration to ensure that his/her condominium’s Declaration is consistent with the above structure.
Please note that the above is intended to be purely informative to prospective tenants considering standard Florida residential leases. The above information is in no way exhaustive or determinative. Further, each lease should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
 See § 718, Fla. Stat. (2017).
 See § 83, Fla. Stat. (2017).