Injured visitors can sue HOA owners if common areas are deemed unsafe
Richard D. DeBoest II
Lawyers for Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross answer questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner’s association law, real estate law, civil litigation, estate planning and business transactions.
Question: I was elected chairman of the board of directors of my homeowners association. We have posted signs that say “Private property owners and guests only” at the entrances and around the lakes. We have always taken the attitude that we don’t want non-members fishing in our lakes and sliding and falling and then chasing us.
We were asked, in a spirit of good neighborliness by a neighboring association, to authorize their residents to fish in our lakes. Is there a legal sign etc that we could put in place that would allow us to allow them to do this but prevent them from suing us if someone were to slip or get hurt? Thank you.
A: You can place signs that say “Use at your own risk,” but this would not relieve the HOA of the obligation to keep the common area lake in a safe state or prevent someone from suing you for not keeping the common area lake safe. not doing it or for failing to do so. do it.
Likewise, having someone sign a waiver and waiver of responsibility for walking on your property, while helpful, will not prevent them from suing you and even winning if it shows you were at current of an unsafe condition and you have not corrected it.
This would also apply to your own owners. Thus, reducing the number of people using the lake reduces the risk of slipping and falling. So even if you want to be a good neighbor, the board needs to think about what is in the best interests of the HOA and not of the neighbors.
If the neighboring HOA wanted to sign a compensation agreement in exchange for an easement of use, agreeing that they would indemnify you from their members’ claims, that would be helpful and offer you the greatest protection, unless you say “no.” “.
However, I would bet they won’t sign such a document. You can also discuss this with your liability insurance company, as they may have issues allowing outside people to use your common areas. Increased use means increased risk and they may want to charge you a higher premium.
Simply put, while it may sound friendly, it is not in the best interest of your members to whom you have a duty to allow this practice.
Question: We have a tenant who rents a house in our community. My question is: is the tenant allowed to invite an unlimited number of guests into the community when the rules and regulations are written as follows; “The use of the property of the association, including, but not limited to, the recreation grounds, by persons other than an owner or a member of the family, guests, guests or tenants of the owner is strictly prohibited. ”
All rules and regulations regarding the use of association property and recreational grounds are worded in the same way. The interpretation of many in the community is that the owner has the right to invite family members, guests, guests or tenants. However, the tenant does not have these same rights according to the wording of the internal regulations.
We believe that only the owner can invite people including his tenant. The reason for concern is that the tenant continually invites an unlimited number of people from outside the community to use the sports facilities.
This puts what we think is unnecessary stress on this equipment. The board’s position is that the way the rules and regulations are written allows the tenant to invite an unlimited number of guests just like the landlord can.
We don’t see it from the way it was written. The council also said that this also falls under the Florida Fair Housing Act. We don’t see it either, as it’s a rule that provides guidelines on who can invite people to use our community facilities.
A: I agree with your board’s interpretation of the provision you quote. Generally, when a house is rented, the tenant assumes all rights to use the common areas and the landlord’s amenities. Section 718.106 (4) of the Condominium Act expressly provides that “when a unit is leased, a tenant has all rights of use over the property of the association and common items otherwise readily available for use. General by Unit Owners and Unit Owner does not have these rights, except as a guest, unless Renter waives these rights in writing.
Although this same provision is not found in Chapter 720, the Homeowners Associations Act, the same principle applies.
Richard D. DeBoest II, Esq., Is a partner in the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross. To ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your request to: [email protected]
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