Association Key Access to Units – What Are the Rules?
Can a condominium association require that unit owners provide the association with a key to access a unit? The short answer to the question is yes.
Most associations and owners are aware of Fla. Stat. § 718.111(5)(a) that states “The association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours, when necessary for the maintenance, repair or replacement of any common elements or any portion of a unit to be maintained by the association pursuant to the declaration or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit or units.”
In the case of Harbour Royale Condominium Association vs. George Mitchell, Case No. 13-02-8797, (Brevard County, September 17th, 2013), the Association established a rule requiring owners to deliver a key to their unit to the association. Specifically, their rule stated that “It is required that keys to the unit be provided to the Association Office. They are to be used for emergency purposes and for periodic spray controls. The Association has the right to authorize entrance to the owner’s unit by any means necessary in case of an emergency at the expense of the owner.”
Despite the association’s rule, one particular owner refused to provide a key on the grounds that he previously provided a key to the association and the keys were misplaced. He was also afraid that the association would make copies and give the copies to unauthorized maintenance personnel.
The Arbitrator ordered the owner to permanently provide the Association with a key and stated that ““The right of access granted by [Fla. Stat. § 718.1255] is broad enough to support a requirement that unit owners must provide key access to their unit to the Association.” The Arbitrator went on to say “Even if the Association lost the copy of the key [the owner] allegedly gave to the Association, [the owner’s] remedy is not to refuse to provide another copy of the key to the Association.”
If your community is interested in implementing a policy requiring owners to deliver keys or key access codes to the association, we recommend the following:
- The association must adopt a formal rule implementing the new key access policy.
- The rule should describe the requirement to deliver keys or codes to the association, how those keys and codes will be handled and safeguarded, the instances in which those keys and codes will be used for access to the unit, etc.
- Give written notice to all the owners that the new policy is in place.
As always, check your particular association’s governing documents for specific restrictions regarding entry to units, adoption of rules, etc.
If you have any questions on this topic or any other Homeowner or Condo Association issues, please contact us and we will be happy to help.