If your condominium association alleges that you are in violation of the Declaration of Condominium or the Rules and Regulations governing the community they can fine you or they can file a petition for arbitration with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). The division of the DBPR that handles these matters is the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. The Division will provide an Arbitrator to hear your case. The Arbitrator works with the Division and hears condominium enforcement cases on a regular basis.
At the hearing on the matter the Arbitrator will hear testimony and receive evidence as to the dispute from both the Association and Homeowner. At the conclusion of the hearing the Arbitrator will issue their ruling in favor of the prevailing party. The prevailing party is entitled to recover their reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in the arbitration. If the losing party believes the decision was in error they have the option, within a limited amount of time, to file a lawsuit in the Circuit Court with jurisdiction to have the Court re-hear the dispute. No lawsuit may be filed in Court without the matter first being submitted to Arbitration.
This is not an appeal in that the Court is not deciding whether the Arbitrator acted properly in the procedure and decision of the Arbitration, but is an actual rehearing of the matter. However, the final decision of the Arbitrator is admissible in the court action to be reviewed by the Court. The prevailing party in the Court action is entitled to recover their reasonable fees and costs incurred in the lawsuit.
Francis M. King, Esq.