Q. I purchased my condo unit in 2005 with amenities that included 24-hour security, two pools, a parking lot, and a children’s playground. This past summer, our board destroyed the children’s playground to create additional parking, and made those extra spaces available for rent. None of the homeowners were informed about that. When I asked about it, I was told that the playground was in bad shape and costs the board extra money for insurance, and that the kids can use any of the nearby parks for playing. Is this action by the board legal?
—Distressed Unit Owner
A. “The destruction and discontinuation of a children’s playground would be a material alteration of the common elements, requiring approval as provided by state law and the Declaration,” says attorney Dan Lobeck of the Sarasota-based firm Lobeck & Hanson, P.A. “So would its conversion to a parking area.
“Florida case law provides that any perceptible change in the appearance, function or use of the common elements that cannot be justified as necessary for maintenance or protection is a material alteration: Sterling Village v. Breitenbach, 252 So.2d 685 (4th DCA Fla. 1971); Tiffany Plaza Condominium Association, Inc. v. Spencer, 416 So.2d 823 (2d DCA Fla. 1982); Cottrell v. Thornton, 449 So.2d 1291 (2d DCA Fla. 1984).
“In one case, a change in building color was held to be a material alteration: Islandia Condominium Association, Inc. v. Vermut, 501 So.2d 741 (4th DCA Fla. 1987).