Can a Condominium Association Evict a Tenant?
Generally speaking, if an association’s recorded governing documents do not contain the authority to evict a tenant within the condominium, then the association probably does not have the power to do so, unless there is a separate written agreement delegating that authority from the unit owner/landlord.
Under Fla. Stat. § 718.303(1), owners, tenants, and invitees are governed by, and must comply with, the provisions of the Condominium Act (Chapter 718, Florida Statutes), as well as the declaration, bylaws, and other documents creating the association, all of which are considered expressly incorporated into the lease of a unit. While the statute allows actions at law or equity to be brought by an association against a tenant, the statutory procedures for residential evictions (Chapter 83, Florida Statutes) apply to landlords and their attorneys or agents – – not to the condominium association where the property is located, which is not considered a landlord.
In addition, most association governing documents (declaration, bylaws, etc.) do not contain express authority for the association to evict a tenant from a unit. Consequently, most condominium associations are not in a position to seek eviction of a tenant living in the building, even if that tenant is violating the association’s rules.
One exception to this general rule is if the association has a contractual right to evict the tenant for violations of the association’s governing documents. For example, the association can enter into a written agreement with the owner/landlord which provides the association with the right to stand in the landlord’s shoes and act as the landlord’s agent to evict the tenant. An agreement like this could be included in the association’s lease approval package, in which case it should be signed by both the owner/landlord and the tenant. Any such provisions should be worded carefully with the assistance of legal counsel, to give the association the proper authority to evict, as well as only eviction rights rather than responsibilities. (Note – – just like eviction authority, conditions on leasing of units may only be imposed where the association has been granted the power to approve or condition leases of units under its governing documents.)
There are also considerations of whether evicting a tenant is worth the association’s time and expense. Legal fees and costs are likely to be incurred in pursuing eviction in court, which may not be recoverable from the tenant or the unit owner. Depending on the lease term, eviction proceedings also may not be as expedient as simply waiting for the particular tenant’s lease to expire. Additionally, the association may have other remedies besides eviction, such as issuing fines for rule violations.
Proceeding in these situations with difficult tenants usually depends on the particular tenant and the seriousness of his or her conduct. Given the different legal requirements and strategies involved, it is best for the association to consult with its legal counsel before taking action to evict a problematic tenant.
About the Author: Rebecca Newman Casamayor is an experienced commercial litigator with expertise in complex business and commercial litigation, breach of contract cases, construction law, community association law and litigation, business fraud, and bankruptcy.