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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Florida Law Shifts Control of Mixed-Use Common Areas, Sparking Controversy


Mixed use common area in Florida

A new Florida law, reported by Jack Rogers for GlobeSt, is generating significant debate over its implications for control of common areas in mixed-use buildings, where residential condos coexist with hotels. The law, known as HB 1021, was recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis after passing through the state legislature. Initially aimed at increasing accountability for condominium homeowner associations and managers, the bill was amended at the last minute to include a provision favoring developers and hotel owners.


The contentious amendment stipulates that condo residents in mixed-use buildings only own what is explicitly stated in their initial contracts with developers. This provision effectively grants developers and hotel owners authority over common spaces such as lobbies, pools, restaurants, and elevators, as well as the power to determine maintenance fees and assessments, according to a report by the Miami Herald.


This shift in control has sparked legal challenges, with attorneys for both sides preparing for a showdown. Advocates for the developers and hotel owners argue that maintaining control over common areas is crucial to uphold the standards associated with their brands. Real estate attorney Mark Grant, who supported the final version of HB 1021, emphasized that the law requires clear disclosure to potential buyers that condo associations will not control these mixed-use buildings.


"Buyers are free to purchase or not purchase a unit in this type of product," Grant told the Miami Herald.


However, opponents of the amendment, including attorney Stevan Pardo, argue that it unfairly burdens condo owners with high maintenance fees without giving them any say in how the money is spent. Pardo highlighted concerns that condo owners could be left with no control over essential parts of their living environment.


"Imagine you're living in a condominium building and all you own is the air rights of your unit. You don't own your front door. You have no rights to have ownership or control or maintenance of your lobbies, your elevators, your hallways, none of that. That's all controlled by a developer, and they could control it forever," Pardo said.


Pardo also warned that developers might apply this law to maintain control over common areas in purely residential buildings, though Grant dismissed this idea, noting that developers usually relinquish control after selling the majority of units in residential-only buildings.


The debate over who better manages condo buildings—homeowner associations or developers—was also reignited. Grant cited the tragic 2021 collapse of a Champlain Towers building in Surfside, which killed 98 people, as evidence that stricter oversight by developers could potentially prevent such disasters. In response to the Surfside collapse, Florida's legislature has already updated laws to mandate structural integrity reserve studies, ensuring that homeowner associations set aside sufficient funds for essential repairs.


As the legal battles over HB 1021 unfold, the future of common area control in mixed-use buildings remains uncertain, with significant implications for condo owners, developers, and the broader real estate market in Florida.

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