S.A. from Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello Mr. Condo! I’ve just been notified by my condo association that I’ve been fined $100 for parking on a wrong spot. The owner of the spot doesn’t live there so I used the spot this morning. I knew I would be back by the afternoon to remove it. The association called me and told me they were going to boot my car if I didn’t remove it in the next 2 minutes. I was 2 hours away and couldn’t remove it in time. I realize it was my mistake but I’d like to know what my rights are. Are they required to leave a reasonable notice and give a hearing before making the decision on the $100 fine?
Florida statute 718.303 states:
(b) A fine or suspension may not be imposed unless the association first provides at least 14 days’ written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the unit owner and, if applicable, its occupant, licensee, or invitee. The hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons residing in a board member’s household. If the committee does not agree, the fine or suspension may not be imposed. How can this be enforced? Or do I just have to comply and pay the fine? Thanks for your time.
Mister Condo replies:
S.A., sorry for your problems! The process in Connecticut involves notice of intent to fine before fining but I wasn’t sure about the Florida law so I reached out to one of the best community association attorneys I know in Florida to get your answer. I asked Attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger, one of the founding partners of the prestigious firm of Becker & Poliakoff, Inc.. Here’s what she had to say:
“Fines for rules violations in a Florida condominium association cannot be imposed without first giving the violator notice of the infraction and the opportunity to appear before an impartial fining committee. The writer can point out the flaw in the fine to the board or can ignore it until a valid fine is imposed. It would appear that this person will not park in the wrong spot again so the association’s only remedy would be to pursue a $100 fine in Small Claims Court which does seem likely to happen. If it does, the writer can use the flawed fine procedure as his defense.”
So it looks like Small Claims Court may be your best option, S.A., Good luck!