Dispute happens. Whether it’s a consistent violation of rules and regulations or something more serious like delinquency or bad debt, both the owners and the association need to be protected. And, for the sake of the whole community, disputes need to be resolved in a fair and timely manner.
Resolution comes in three forms: mediation, arbitration and litigation. In this blog we will discuss mediation, which is the preferred and least invasive of all resolution procedures. Mediation is the process where a neutral third party attempts to guide the parties to an acceptable resolution. In an HOA, the third party tries to find the best resolution for both parties. In a condo association, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation employs arbitrators to essentially decide on a verdict and choose a ‘winner’ of the dispute.
For owners filing against an association, this dispute must be filed as a written complaint with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. Depending on the type of dispute different actions must be taken. Certain disputes require arbitration before mediation. When possible, it is in the best interest of both parties to settle the dispute through mediation before escalating. Mediation is the most cost-effective, efficient and diplomatic form of settlement.
The law is set up to encourage dispute resolution through mediation. With this is mind, there is a consequence for refusing to participate in mediation. The rejecting party can end up being unable to recover attorney fees if the matter is taken to court. This alone is a great reason to choose mediation over all other forms of resolution.
When in doubt on any proper procedures regarding resolution, first consult the association’s governing documents and seek the counsel of an attorney.
We hope this clears up some of your questions regarding mediation as the preferred method of dispute resolution. If you are in a dispute or considering your options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions.