Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals decision (May 11, 2011).
This case involved a dispute between a homeowners association (Association) and two homeowners (Owners) concerning the Owners maintenance of their property in accordance with Associations governing documents. The relevant provisions of the governing documents provided that owners must keep appurtenances that were not maintained by the Association in first class, good, safe, clean, neat, and attractive condition consistent with the general appearance of the Community.
The dispute started when Association sent the Owners a certified demand letter informing them that they were in violation of Associations Declaration for not removing mold/mildew from the exterior of their property in order to maintain a safe, neat, and attractive appearance. After not seeing the mold/mildew removed within a month after Homeowners said they would hire someone to take care of the problem, Association filed suit against Owners for injunctive relief to compel them to remove the mold/mildew alleging that Owners were in violation of the Declaration by failing to maintain their property in a safe and clean condition. Within days of being served with Associations complaint, Owners sent Associations attorney a letter along with a copy of an invoice indicating that Owners had paid someone to pressure wash the affected areas. Notwithstanding same, there were still areas that evidenced mold/mildew and the issues were not resolved. The trial court subsequently entered a summary judgment in favor of Owners on the grounds that Owners had presented proof that they had pressure washed the affected areas of their property as of the date the complaint was filed. The trial court also awarded Owners attorney fees as the prevailing party. Association then appealed contending that the trial courts decision was in error.
The appellate court found that issue was not whether Owners had pressure washed the affected areas, but whether the mold/mildew stains had been removed. The fact that Owners proved that they had the pressure washing done was not sufficient to find for Owners when some mold/mildew stains remained. Allowing some stains to remain despite the pressure washing constituted a violation of the Associations Declaration. The Owners had a continuing obligation to remediate the staining problem even though they had the pressure washing completed. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial courts decision in favor of Owners along with the award of attorney fees and costs in favor of Owners.
See case decision: Hibbs_Grove_Plantation_Homeo