Real Estate Case Law Updates

img_2205By: Daniel Pascale, Esq.

Offices located in Delray Beach and Coral Gables, FL

COURT APPOINTED RECEIVER OVER CONDO ASSOCIATION

Granada Lakes Villas Condo Ass’n, Inc. v. Metro-Dade Investments Co.,

74 So.3d 593 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011), app’d 38 Fla. L. Weekly S777 (Fla. 2013)

The developer of a subdivision of a larger condominium complex and the master property owners association for the development (owners association) sued the condominium association (condo association), alleging that the condo association failed to pay the developer and the owners association related expenses for common areas after collecting fees and assessments collected from owners of the condominium units. The developer subsequently filed an emergency motion for the appointment of a receiver over the condo association in order to facilitate the collection of the fees and assessments and to perform a proper accounting. The trial court concluded that it lacked the statutory authority to appoint a receiver in this instance.

On appeal the Second District Court reversed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court erred as a matter of law because its right to appoint a receiver in this case was inherent in a court of equity, not a statutorily created right. The Supreme Court approved the appellate court’s decision, holding that a court’s inherent equitable power to appoint a receiver over a non-profit condominium association like the condo association was not limited to certain statutorily enumerated circumstances.

SERVICEMEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF ACT

Higgins v. Timber Springs Homeowners, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2274 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

A homeowners association sued to foreclose on a lien in the amount of $363.33 for unpaid homeowner’s fees. The homeowner wrote three letters to the judge informing him that the homeowner was serving in the United States Army. One of the letters enclosed orders requiring the homeowner to be in Pennsylvania two weeks before the hearing on the association’s motion for summary judgment. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment, entered final judgment of foreclosure, and denied the homeowner’s motion to vacate the final judgment of foreclosure.

On appeal the Fifth District Court reversed the trial court’s judgment based upon the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 U.S.C. App., Secs. 501-597b. Although the homeowner failed to properly provide verification of unavailability from his commanding officer, he should have been given “an opportunity to supplement his request for a stay under the SCRA before proceeding” because the “SCRA is to be liberally construed in favor of those ‘who dropped their affairs to answer their country’s call,’” and foreclosure proceedings are equitable in nature.

IMPLIED WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY

Maronda Homes, Inc. of Florida v. Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Ass’n, Inc.,

48 So.3d 902 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010), aff ’d 38 Fla. L. Weekly S573 and S859 (Fla. 2013)

Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association fi led an action against Maronda Homes, Inc. for breach of the implied warranties of fitness and merchantability (referred to as the implied warranty of habitability in the residential construction context) arising from alleged defects in the development and construction of a residential subdivision that Maronda Homes developed. Maronda Homes fi led a third-party complaint against T.D. Thomson Construction Company for indemnification based on the alleged violation of the implied warranties.

The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Maronda Homes and T.D. Thompson on the basis that the common law implied warranties of fitness and merchantability do not extend to the construction and design of the infrastructure, private roadways, drainage systems or other common areas in a residential subdivision because those structures do not immediately support the residences.

On appeal the Fifth District Court reversed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the common law warranty of habitability was applicable in this case. On review the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the district court’s opinion, holding that the implied warranties of fitness and merchantability applied to the improvements that provided essential services to the homeowners association.