Citation. 806 So. 2d 452.
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Brief Fact Summary.
Jahren made leases to tenants in violation to a lease restriction clause in the condominium declaration of Woodside village Condominium Association.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A restriction clause in a condominium declaration will be upheld by the court unless it is arbitrary, against public policy or violation of a fundamental right.
Condominiums are required by law to record a declaration of the condominium in order to avail itself of condominium protections. Condominiums typically amend there declarations from time to time. Woodside Village Condominium’s original declaration allowed leasing of all units. If that lease where longer than a year the owner needed board approval first. Then Woodside filed an amendment that required all leases and renewal of leases to first get board approval. The owners of Woodside became upset when too many properties had tenants rather than owners in the units. This impacts property value and life at the condominium complex. So Woodside filed another amendment which stated that all leases could only last 9 months out the year and each unit needed to be owner-occupied for at least the first year of ownership. This amendment was voted in by 2/3 of the unit owners as required by the Declaration. A year after this amendment Jahren received notification that he was in violation of this restriction. Jahren refused to comply. Woodside brought sought to require compliance.
Whether a lease restriction in a condominium declaration amendment is valid.
A condominium is a creature of statute unlike ownership of other property. That being said the court believes that it is up to the legislature to give more rights to unit owners against condominium boards. The court must look to the statute that creates rights and the declaration to see if the lease restriction is fair. In general condominium ownership is more restrictive. Reasonable restrictions concerning the use, occupancy and transfer of units is essential to properly run a condo complex. This is because condominium owners live so close to one another these rules help the health safety and welfare of all unit owners. Courts are reluctant to overturn a clause in a declaration. Condominium boards have two powers; restrictions in the Declaration and rules. If the issue before the court is a board rule it is more likely to decide it invalid if it is unfair compared to a clause in the declaration which is the case here. Condominium boards have statutory authority to make such amendments and they will typically be upheld.
Courts are reluctant to overturn a clause in a condominiums declaration that was properly voted on by the board. Condominium property rights are generally more restricted and unless that high threshold is met, the restriction will be held valid.