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Lenzi v. The Regency Tower Association, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 20, 2018

RONALD G. LENZI, Appellant,
v.
THE REGENCY TOWER ASSOCIATION, INC., Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; David A. Haimes, Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE 17-006833.

          Louis Arslanian, Hollywood, for appellant.

          Josef M. Fiala of Vernis & Bowling of Palm Beach, P.A., North Palm Beach, and Jeffrey Green of Kaye Bender Rembaum, P.L., Pompano Beach, for appellee.

          FORST, JUDGE

         Appellant Ronald Lenzi appeals the trial court's final judgment in favor of appellee The Regency Tower Association, Inc. ("the Association"). Appellant argues that the trial court misinterpreted the declaration of condominium ("the Declaration") by holding that the Declaration enabled the Board of Directors of the Association ("the Board") to unilaterally make any alterations to the common areas of the property. We reject Appellant's arguments and affirm.

         Background

         Appellant owned a condominium at Regency Tower. In late 2016, the Board voted to alter the flooring in the lobby of the condominium building from Carrara marble to ceramic tile. In response, Appellant filed a petition for arbitration attempting to overturn the Board's decision. Appellant argued that because the Declaration did not include a separate provision detailing the procedure for approving "material" alterations, section 718.113(2)(a), Florida Statutes (2016) precluded the Association from unilaterally making this material alteration. Section 718.113(2)(a) provides that if a declaration "does not specify the procedure for approval of material alterations or substantial additions, 75 percent of the total voting interests of the association must approve the alterations or additions." Id.

         The Association disagreed and filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. It explained that the Declaration was not silent since Article XIX, titled "Right of Association to Alter and Improve Property and Assessment Therefor, " stated that the Association had the power to make "such alterations or improvements to the COMMON PROPERTY" with merely the approval of the Board. The arbitrator agreed with the Association, and held that the phrase "such alterations or improvements" was broad and encompassed material alterations.

         Seeking alternative redress, Appellant filed suit in the trial court, making the same argument that he made in the arbitration. In response, the Association filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, again arguing that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. The trial court granted this motion, and entered final judgment in favor of the Association.

         Analysis

         "A trial court's interpretation of a condominium's declaration is . . . reviewed de novo." Courvoisier Courts, LLC v. Courvoisier Courts Condo. Ass'n, Inc., 105 So.3d 579, 580 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).

         "In construing the language of a contract, courts are to be mindful that 'the goal is to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the text of the entire agreement to accomplish its stated meaning and purpose.'" Murley v. Wiedamann, 25 So.3d 27, 29 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) (quoting Taylor v. Taylor, 1 So.3d 348, 350 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009)).

         Section 718.113(2)(a) states that "there shall be no material alteration or substantial additions to the common elements or to real property which is association property, except in a manner provided in the declaration as originally recorded or as amended under the procedures provided therein." Id. It is undisputed that the lobby is a common element of the condominium, and that replacing the flooring as proposed was a material alteration. The issue before us is whether Article XIX of the Declaration "specif[ies] [a] procedure" the Association must follow to make "material" alterations to the common property. ยง 718.113(2)(a), Fla. Stat. The Association argues, and the trial court held, that the term "such alterations or improvements" in ...


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