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Percentage of maintenance questioned

By RICHARD WHITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 2, 2001


Question: We recently bought a condominium. The declaration erroneously states that this is a two-bedroom unit when, in fact, ours is a one-bedroom unit. We are being charged maintenance for a two-bedroom unit.

Can we correct this error in the declaration? How much would it cost?

Answer: Check your deed. You will find a "percentage of ownership" listed there. This is the figure used to determine your share of the fees, and it should agree with the documents.

The percentages of ownership for all the units in a condo must total 100 percent. If you change one ownership percentage, you must change them all.

You need to talk to a lawyer. If the information is incorrect, and changes are necessary, every unit in your condo will be affected, and it might be necessary to issue new deeds for every unit. More than likely this is an expensive correction.

Fund-transfer approval

Question: Large chunks of concrete have been breaking off the balconies of our condo, which is near the water. An engineering firm has determined that there is extensive damage, which will be very costly to repair.

Even though our association has been prudent over the years in funding reserves, the fund for balcony repair contains not nearly enough to pay for the major work required here.

Can we tap into other reserve funds to pay for the concrete repair?

Answer: Florida Statute 718.112, under "annual budget," says money may be transferred by a majority approval of the members voting at a members' meeting. The board does not have the right to move reserve funds from one account to another without approval by the members.

Balancing rights

Question: For years one owner has harassed neighbors by phone and in person, ordering them to turn down their televisions and stop talking on their patios. He screams obscenities at children playing in the pool.

This owner leaves for work at 4 a.m. and retires around 7 p.m., just about the time most of us are getting home from work and having dinner. He has called the police many times.

He pounds on the walls with his fists so hard that the whole side of the building shakes. Frightened neighbors open their doors to find him screaming obscenities.

One owner suggested the man use earplugs, but he refused, saying then he could not hear a fire alarm. What can we do?

Answer: There's no good answer to your problem. This homeowner has the right not to be disturbed, but the other residents have rights too.

Check local noise ordinances to see if you are in compliance, then discuss these codes with your neighbor and ask him to work with the community. You can suggest he add carpet, acoustical ceiling tiles or padded walls to his bedroom to muffle the noise.

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Write to Richard White, c/o Community Living, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestions@bigfoot.com. Please include your name and city. Questions should concern association operations; legal opinions cannot be offered. For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney.

To discuss provisions of the state condo/co-op acts, call the state Bureau of Condominiums office in Tallahassee at (800) 226-9101 or (850) 488-0725 or call the Tampa bureau at (800) 226-6028, (800) 226-4472, or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominiums, Education Section, Suite 200, 4524 Oak Fair Blvd., Tampa, FL 33610. Please note that this office provides no information about homeowners' associations. The state has no bureau or department covering those associations.

You can access the Bureau of Condominiums Web site at www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/lsc/co_page.html.

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