MATERIAL ALTERATIONS CLARIFIED ---- MAYBE

Several years ago, our firm was involved in a lawsuit representing many condominium unit owners against their association, alleging that material alterations were made without a 75% vote of the unit owners before the material alterations were made.  We alleged that the amount of the assessments for these material alterations were staggering and the 75% vote was only obtained after the group who bought all these units after they were foreclosed upon owned at least 75% of the units who then decided to vote in favor of these “material alterations.”

The Dade County trial judge, The Honorable Jennifer Bailey, ruled that it made no difference when the 75% vote was taken, as long as it was taken.  She ruled that the statute did not specifically state that the vote needed to be taken “before” the material alterations were made and that the vote could be taken after the material alterations were made.  I argued in response that said interpretation of the statute would lead to a potentially absurd result.  Suppose the massive material alterations are made without a 75% vote, and the vote eventually is against the material alterations?  What do you do now?  Assess the people who didn’t want the material alterations to now put the building back to the way it was?  When would be the deadline for the 75% vote if you could do it after the material alterations were made?  Eventually?

Now our firm was not appellate counsel nor were we the firm who represented the plaintiffs at the evidentiary hearings the appellate decision refers to.  However, last week, the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled on this issue.  It again clarified what a material alteration is.  It again clarified that “repairs” are not material alterations and that a Board does not need a vote of the owners in order to make repairs.   And the court ruled that in order to make a “material alteration” the vote must be obtained “before” the material alteration is made.

If you live in a condo, and especially if you are on a condo board of directors you must read the decision.  Here it is:_________-

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