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.