Florida Appellate Court decision (July 15, 2015).
In this case, the plaintiffs were the owners of a ground floor condominium unit that had ongoing problems due to moisture intrusion through the slab under the floor of their unit. Under the HOAs governing documents, the association was responsible for repairs of the slab. After the homeowners reported the problem to their HOA, efforts were made by the HOA to determine the cause of the excessive moisture. Consultants ruled out the possibility of a leak and recommended the installation of a moisture barrier on the slab and an exterior drainage system. After nearly two years, the HOA had a drainage system installed but did nothing regarding the recommended moisture barrier on the slab. The drainage system did not solve the problem and the moisture intrusion continued. The HOA then retained a company to install the moisture barrier, but it was not installed in accordance with the specifications of the engineering firm that made the recommendation for the moisture barrier and the moisture intrusion into the plaintiffs unit continued. At that point, the HOA failed to take any further action to resolve the problem.
The homeowners contended that the ongoing moisture intrusion into their unit had rendered their unit uninhabitable and they filed a lawsuit against the HOA seeking: (i) a mandatory injunction to compel the association to take action to resolve the moisture intrusion problem; and (ii) damages to compensate them for damage to their personal property and for loss of use of their unit. The trial court addressed the homeowners request for injunctive relief first and found in favor of the HOA based on a determination that the homeowners had not met their burden of proving that they had no adequate remedy at law. The homeowners then appealed the trial courts denial of their request for injunctive relief.
In reviewing the trial courts judgment, the appellate court recognized that Florida statutes authorize the granting of injunctive relief in favor of homeowners when condominium associations fail to perform their obligations under governing documents. The court further stated that the right to injunctive relief requires findings that: (i) a clear right has been violated; (ii) irreparable harm is threatened; and (iii) there is not adequate remedy at law. Applying these requirements to the facts of the case, the appellate court determined that the homeowners had a clear right that the HOA had violated, they had suffered irreparable harm due to the continuing nature of the violation, and that they had no adequate remedy at law. As to the adequacy of the remedy at law, the court noted that the HOA had the exclusive duty to repair the slab and until adequate repairs were made, the unit would remain uninhabitable. Because a monetary award would not fix the problem, the homeowners did not have an adequate remedy at law. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the trial courts judgment and remanded the case back to the trial court for issuance of the appropriate injunction.
See case decision: Amelio_v__Marilyn_Pines_Unit