Condominium Arbitration in Florida
Tuesday, November, 20, 2012
The Florida legislature passed a law in 1982 requiring disputes with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes be first submitted to non-binding arbitration before filing a lawsuit. In doing so, the legislature made an attempt to lower the number of condominium disputes that found their way into Florida’s courts.
According to the statute, the definition of a dispute is limited to conflict over the authority of a Board of Directors to require an owner to take action regarding the owner’s unit or failure of the Board to property conduct elections and conduct business. Disagreements regarding other tenants, however, are not within the scope of the statute, although it is suggested that such disputes would benefit from binding arbitration.
In non-binding arbitration, if either party in conflict is not happy with the decision of the arbitrator, he or she can then decide to file a lawsuit. In binding arbitration, the decision of the arbitrator is the “final word,” and both parties forfeit their right to file a lawsuit based on the same complaints that were settled in the arbitration process.
If you intend to file for arbitration over a condominium dispute, you are required by law to give the other party written notification of the nature of the dispute and that you intend to settle it via arbitration. If the other party does not willingly solve the dispute on his/her own accord, you begin the arbitration process by filing a petition for arbitration with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes. There is a $50 filing fee and you must show that you have given the other party written notification of both your dispute and your intent to arbitrate.
After filing a petition for arbitration with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes, the arbitrator will take over the responsibility of communicating with both parties. If further information is needed, the arbitrator will require it from the party who has it. Most arbitration hearings are conducted via a conference call and the arbitrator then has 45 days from the hearing date to submit his or her final order and award.