Attorney Fees in Community Associations
In Florida, community associations are creatures of statute, meaning that their creation and ongoing operations are governed by statute. Chapters 718, 719 and 720 of the Florida Statutes govern the establishment and operation of condominiums, cooperatives and homeowner’s associations, respectively. Each of these Chapters contains several provisions providing for the recovery of attorney’s fees by the prevailing party.
In addition, the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions governing these communities may also contain provisions providing entitlement to attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in a given dispute. A Declaration contains “attributes of a covenant running with the land” and operates as a contract among unit owners and the association, spelling out mutual rights and obligations of the parties thereto. Thus, the Declaration itself constitutes a contract and if it contains provisions providing for recovery of attorney’s fees by the prevailing party, such party may rely on the Declaration as a basis for recovering such fees. In a suit involving a community association, therefore, a prevailing party may rely on both statutory and contractual provisions to seek attorney’s fees.