M.S. from Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in an 88-unit condo community. The Declaration of my community provides that parking spaces are common elements and that common elements are appurtenances to units; I thus own a 1/88 interest in the common elements. My Association has adopted a parking decal rule and has installed signs near parking spaces that state, “Tow Away Zone: unauthorized vehicles or vessels will be towed at owner’s expense…FL. ST. Stat. 715.07.” The Association is providing notice to violators by affixing a warning sticker to the windshield that threatens towing within 48 hours if the vehicle is not removed. I’ve been told that the Association has already, on one or more occasions, arranged for a vehicle to be towed.
Irrespective of what else it might say, the Declaration of my community provides that the Association is to be, at all times, the entity having ultimate authority over the Condominium consistent with the Florida Condominium Act; towing is not a remedy under 718.303. Also, to me, towing raises Fourth Amendment implications, which as I understand it applies in the civil context as well as the criminal.
Since the Association is to be, at all times, the entity having ultimate authority over the Condominium consistent with the Florida Condominium Act, what exactly in the Florida Condominium Act empowers associations to seize the property of a unit owner for a violation of rules (parking or otherwise) or other documents governing the condominium?
Mister Condo replies:
M.S., I am neither an attorney nor an expert on provisions of the Florida Condominium Act or how it pertains to your association. The association parking areas, as you have aptly described, are owned by the Association. The Board can designate and enforce Tow Away Zones on their parking lots. In fact, towing is often the only measure that will correct people from parking where they shouldn’t. If you feel your rights have been violated under your Declaration, the Florida Condominium Act, or the Fourth Amendment, you are free to bring suit against your Board. I honestly do not think you have a case but that is for you and your attorney to decide. In the meantime, I recommend not parking in any Tow Away Zones. I believe your association is serious about enforcing their rules. All the best!