M.H. from Hallandale, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have a question regarding the use of a condominium in Hallandale, Florida. The ownership is divided between my wife and her mother, each owning 50%. My wife and I have been married about 19 years. My wife’s 50% ownership of the condominium was purchased about 5 years ago. Her mother has owned her share for 20+ years. My mother would like to use the unit in September but the association claims that the by-laws only make the unit useable by parents, children, grandchildren and siblings of the unit owners. Since my name is not on the deed, she is excluded from using the unit. This is not a rental situation, she is just borrowing the unit. Are they correct?
For the record my wife and I file a joint, married tax return. (I’m told that may be important.) Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
M.H., glad to hear from you! As you know, I am not an attorney so I knew I would need to ask a friend with some expertise in Florida condominium law to lend a hand with this question. Fortunately for you, I know one of the best! I asked Attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger, of the prestigious firm of Becker & Poliakoff, Inc.. Here’s what she had to say:
Your starting point is to review the guest occupancy restrictions in your association’s governing documents. Some associations do restrict guest occupancy to only the immediate family members of an owner. Whether or not a mother-in-law would fit within the definition of an immediate family member depends on the wording of that restriction.
The purpose for such a guest restriction is to ensure that the community is secure by cutting down on transient occupancy. Often these kinds of occupancy restrictions not only try to limit who can visit but also the length of time a guest can stay.
If your association’s governing documents do contain an occupancy restriction that excludes your mother from occupying the unit as a guest, you should see if the documents are silent on rentals and if so, perhaps your mom should rent the unit for the time she wishes to visit in September. Typically, these kinds of short-term or seasonal rentals are prohibited but not always. Again, it all depends on your individual governing documents.
Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.