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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 110442
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I'm an owner of an apartment and the association has been

Customer Question

I'm an owner of an apartment and the association has been doing things I'm not convinced are legal and I definitely don't think its OK but I don't know what I can do.The building in which I own a unit had used to rent the bottom floor out to a school but they lost the school as it moved elsewhere and the association raised the maintenance fee by means of a special assessment. That I think was wrong as its not my fault they're losing revenue after the school left but I understand fighting special assessments can be tough. I'd like to know if they are allowed to give out a special assessment for that reason.The other thing about this building I'm really not happy about is that they have a bed bug problem (and cockroaches also) within the building that seriously became a problem in the last two months. The bugs are everywhere, in the electrical system in the walls, everywhere. The building is not offering to spray the building for this problem and is simply leaving notes asking the owners to spray their units, I've had my unit sprayed but the problem keeps coming back as other owners are not spraying their units and the bugs are in the walls. Isn't it the responsibility of the association to take care of this issue?I'd like to take some legal steps in getting this association to get stuff done if I can, I'm just not sure if they are legally obligated to fix this issue or legally allowed to raise a special assessment for to make up for their lost revenue since no one is renting out that unit the school used to be in.Looking for any help or tips you have!
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, when you live in association properties, either HOA or COA, the costs of operations are the liability of all of the members as the association has no way of raising funds other than through the owners who are members. So these associations when encountering expenses that need to be paid have the right under FL law and also their bylaws to issue assessments to cover those expenses and the assessments are based on per unit or per size of unit, depending on the bylaws (or CC&R). So, while it is the associations duty, depending on the bylaws, to take care of issues in common areas or wherever, the money they get to do so comes from the association who gets money from all owners. So to say, "the association should take care of it" means they have to get money from the owners if they do not have money in their account to pay for what is needed to be done.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok, I'm not surprised about the special assessment stuff, but what about pest control? don't they have to do something about the bug problem? They are asking everyone to spray but the bugs are in the walls, I have tenants that are waking up with bloody sheets, they throw out mattresses and I have the unit sprayed but the problem still comes back because the problem lies in the building and not my unit. At this rate I cant rent out this unit, is my only option to sell?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Yes, unless the bylaws say otherwise, they are liable for anything in the common areas, so if extermination is needed in the common areas, like in the walls and electrical system, the association is liable, but if the association does not have money, again a special assessment to pay for it has to be levied. If they are not honoring their obligations according to the CC&R or bylaws, then the owners can sue the association for a declaratory judgment to force them to do so or they can elect a new board who will do what they are required to do.

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