|Buying A Condominium
is a planned development that has been created pursuant to Chapter 718 of the Florida
Statutes (The Condominium Act) and may be either residential or commercial in nature. It
is characterized by the individual ownership of living units (or offices) and the joint
(as a group) ownership of the common elements of the project.
WHAT IS COMMON OWNERSHIP?
land and all common facilities in the condominium such as swimming pools, tennis courts,
lobbies, meeting rooms, elevators, etc., and the walls, roofs, plumbing and wiring are
usually owned and operated by the owners through their elected representatives (usually
This joint ownership
and operation means that no individual owner has control over the management and
decision-making process. Owners must cooperate with one another as a group (called the
condominium association). All owners must abide by the rules and regulations required when
so many people are living so closely together. The association is like a mini-government
with the condominium documents serving as its constitution.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I RECEIVE WHEN BUYING A
CONDOMINIUM FROM A DEVELOPER?
will be given a large number of highly technical documents that may seem discouraging to
read, much less understand. They form the framework within which you will live each day.
It is very important to know what they say. It would be a shock for a pet owner to find
that he or she would not be permitted to have their pet living in the unit. At a minimum,
you should read the frequently asked questions-and-answers sheet and any references it
WHAT DO I OWN OUTRIGHT?
You will own the area formed
by the walls, floor and ceiling of your unit and everything inside including interior
partitions, cabinets, appliances and fixtures. The structural parts of the building are
owned in common like the land.
DO I NEED A LAWYER
FOR MY PURCHASE? WHY?
Having a lawyer from the
very beginning is most important. If you are purchasing a condominium from a developer,
you have 15 days to rescind the contract for the purchase. Consult your attorney well
before this period expires. If you plan to purchase from a private owner, there is a
three-day rescission period (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Legal Holidays).
Consult your attorney
before signing the purchase contract. Your lawyer will not only make sure you are getting
what you expect, but will alert you to any hid- den pitfalls in the condominium documents. One further protection is that your lawyer will be
certain that you will receive a clear title to the unit.
ARE TAXES AND INSURANCE HANDLED DIFFERENTLY THAN WITH A HOUSE?
Taxes, no. Insurance, yes. You will receive a tax bill each November just like you would with a house. It includes
the value of your unit and undivided share of the land and common facilities. Fire and
extended coverage insurance is paid by the condominium association. It will be your
responsibility to obtain contents and personal liability insurance for your unit.
CAN I SELL OR RENT MY CONDOMINIUM?
You may always sell your
condominium, but the Directors of the Association must give advance approval to the
purchaser. Most condominiums restrict or control leasing and it is very important that you
make your- self aware of these policies before buying if you are purchasing as an investment.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN PURCHASING A CONDOMINIUM FROM A DEVELOPER?
The following are steps are
applicable only when purchasing a condominium from a developer. If you are purchasing a
condominium from a homeowner, your attorney should review or prepare the sales contract
before you sign it.
The basic steps are as
The sales person will ask you to sign a
purchase contract, give a down payment (usually-10 percent of the purchase price), and
give you a set of documents. Read the documents right away or take them to a lawyer and
have them explained to you. The contract will set a closing date
You are responsible for arranging
financing. In order to protect your deposit, the contract must be conditioned on your
mortgage if you want one. The lender must approve your credit and the condominium
At the closing, you will sign the legal
documents on the unit purchase and also on your mort- gage loan. This means signing all
the papers and receiving a deed, a closing statement and usually a policy of title
insurance stating that you are receiving clear and unencumbered title to your units.
If you close within 15 days of signing the
contract, you will have waived your statutory rights to rescind the contract.
all residential condominiums regulate pets, children, re-sale and leasing, and other
matters of concern to the owner of a condominium apartment.
Specific information is
contained in the Declaration of Condominium and its attachments.
Before the expiration
of the 15th day, or the three- day period allowed by law to cancel the purchase con- tract
after you have received all of the condominium documents, you should read them carefully
to deter- mine that you will be comfortable with your rights and obligations as an owner.
of the things you should look for are:
The monthly or quarterly assessment you
must pay (recognizing that it may increase in the future).
Restrictions on your right to sell, lease,
mortgage or devise your apartment
Restrictions on the age of children who may
use the pool, beach or other facilities.
Restrictions on pets.
Restrictions on parking any vehicles or
boats, other than regular passenger automobiles
Restrictions on types of floor-covering
materials, drapes or window hangings, screening or glassing-in open balconies, etc.
Your obligations as to maintenance of
windows, screens, air conditioners, plumbing, etc.
Whether or not there are mandatory club
memberships or recreation facility leases in connection with the condominium.
Limitations on use of recreational
facilities, playing stereo units and musical instruments at night.
The material in this pamphlet represents general legal advice. Since the
law Is continually changing, some pro- visions In this pamphlet may be out of date. It is
always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding
your particular case.
This pamphlet is
published by The Florida Bar Information and Bar Services Department as a public service.
Single copies of this pamphlet and others are free upon request by sending a
self-addressed, legal size stamped envelope for each pamphlet requested to Consumer Pamphlets, The Florida Bar, 650 Apalachee
Parkway, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300.
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