Abandoned units can be a big problem for condominium associations. What if an abandoned unit has a water leak, mold or faulty wiring? Fortunately, Florida’s Condominium Act provides associations with a powerful solution. Regardless of any authority provided in the condominium documents (declaration, bylaws, etc.), the association board may, in its sole discretion, enter abandoned units to:
- inspect the unit and adjoining common elements;
- make necessary repairs to the unit or the common elements;
- repair mold or deterioration;
- turn on utilities; or
- otherwise maintain, preserve or protect the unit and adjoining common elements.
Except in cases of emergency, an association must wait two days after giving the owner written or electronic notice of its intent to enter the unit. Unless the owner provides written notice to the contrary, a unit is presumed to be abandoned if:
- the unit is in foreclosure and appears to have been vacant for at least 4 continuous weeks; or
- the unit appears to have been vacant for 2 consecutive months and the association is unable to contact or locate the owner after reasonable inquiry.
Any expenses incurred by the association can be charged to the unit owner and collected using the association’s lien authority. Associations can also request a court-appointed receiver to lease abandoned units and use the rental income to offset the costs and expenses of maintaining, preserving and protecting the unit and the adjoining common elements.
The right to enter abandoned units is broad, but not unlimited. Condominium associations should consult with licensed professionals to ensure compliance with Florida’s statutory requirements.
Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk offers condominium associations access to various risk management services, such as Setnor Byer’s Risk Management Group, Unit Owners’ Electronic Report Line and Florida Division-Approved New Board Member Education Certification online training.