WEST PALM BEACH — Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal denied a motion for a rehearing and withdrew its previous opinion in a case over the proper way to alter a property's landscaping.
The court changed its opinion after finding the Declaration of the Condominium "does not require commercial unit owners to obtain written consent of the Association’s board before altering landscaping appurtenant to their condominium units."
Admittedly, the court erred in "adopting the Association’s interpretation of [the Declaration's] language."
Upon review, the court noted that it must consider “the intent of the parties by their use of such terms must be discerned from within the ‘four corners of the document.’”
At trial, Las Olas Condominiums Association Inc. argued that the owner of the condominiums, Waverly 1 and 2 LLC, "did not have the right to alter the landscaping appurtenant to the condominium units before obtaining written approval from the Association’s board."
According to the Declaration of the Condominium section 17.4, "no Residential Unit Owner shall cause or allow improvements or physical or structural changes to any Residential Unit, Limited Common Elements appurtenant thereto, Common Elements or Association Property."
Waverly argued that this language permitted it to alter the landscaping without obtaining a written consent from the association first.
The court found that the trial court had misinterpreted the language of the declaration as well. It argued the statute in question "only requires the Association’s board to answer in writing any written request made by a residential unit owner for approval of such an addition, alteration or improvement," and has nothing to do with landscaping.
Thus, the court reversed the final judgment and remands with directions for the trial court to enter final judgment in favor of Waverly.
Judge Lisa Small delivered the opinion of the court March 21. Judges Spencer Levine and Burton Conner concurred.