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Michael L. Hyman, with Siegfried, Rivera. Michael L. Hyman, with Siegfried Rivera.

To help relieve Florida’s courts from routine disputes between community associations and their unit owners, the state’s laws call for associations to file for nonbinding arbitration with the state agency that regulates condominiums prior to going to court. However, according to a recent ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, that certainly does not mean such arbitration proceedings under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Condominiums must completely run their course prior to seeking emergency relief in local circuit court.

In Aquarius Condominium Association v. Boris Goldberg, the owners of a unit refused to grant the association’s contractor access to their residence for the purposes of initiating a balcony renovation project as part of a mandated 40-year recertification for the property. In response, the association filed a petition for arbitration with the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes as prescribed under Florida law. On the very same day, it also filed an “emergency motion to abate arbitration and temporarily relinquish jurisdiction” in Broward County circuit court against the unit owners to seek injunctive relief to secure immediate access to the residence.

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