It’s my property and I can do whatever I want with it, right? Wrong!-at least when it comes to renting out a condominium unit.
Most condominium owners in Florida are allowed to rent their units subject to approval by the governing association. However, when an owner is delinquent in paying assessments on a unit, the condominium association has the right under Florida Statute 718.116(4) to withhold approval of any lease on the unit, regardless of the reasonability of lease or quality of the tenant (provided, of course, that the governing documents of the condominium allow the association the right to approve or disapprove of leases).
While this law may prove frustrating for owners who might look to the rental income as a way to pay down their assessment debt, the purpose of this law is to prevent delinquent owners from entering into below market leases that they can afford only because of their non-payment of assessments and other obligations such as their mortgage. Not only does this law protect the community from depressed rental values, but it also helps to avoid the stigma that might be associated with an association permitting a delinquent owner access to a stream of revenue where he or she has little to no expenses and little incentive to pay down their debt. It also protects a prospective tenant from getting in over their head with a landlord who may have little to no interest in laying out any cash, including that which may be necessary to fund major repairs to the unit such as air conditioning or plumbing.
Now lets say a unit owner pushes hard for approval of their lease and it is at fair market value and the prospective tenant passes an initial screening. An alternative to disapproving the lease in the manner described above is founded in another law, Florida Statute 718.116(11), that allows an association to demand and receive rental payments from a delinquent owner’s tenant. If this can be agreed upon as a condition of approval, it may prove to be a viable option for the association and serve as a justification to the rest of the community as to why the lease was approved. For more information on this option, see “Got Rent? Going After Delinquent Owners’ Rental Income“.
Either way, the association should make sure that it creates a policy for dealing with these scenarios to ensure that all unit owners are being treated fairly and uniformly.