Q. I am trying to purchase a condominium in South Florida, but it seems that the board is dragging its feet and holding up the process based on my financial status. I don't know what the problem is because I have an excellent credit history and no lawsuits against me. I will even have enough money in the bank to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees for over a year. Yet the board still believes that my credit is not good enough and desires a co-applicant on the mortgage application. Do I have any kind of rights in this situation? Is there such a thing as financial discrimination? What recourse if any do I have?
—Peeved in Port St. Lucie
A. “The answer to your question may be based in part on the wording of the restrictive covenant setting forth the association resale approval process,” says attorney Jay Steven Levine, founder and sole shareholder of the Boca Raton-based Levine Law Group, with offices in Palm Beach Gardens and Melbourne.
“Based on the typical set of restrictive covenants in Florida, associations are given the right of approval or disapproval over an application to purchase. If the association has “good cause” to reject an application, then under this typical declaration, the association may disapprove and the transaction may not proceed forward. If instead the association does not have the “good cause” to reject the application, then under the typical declaration in Florida, the association would have to provide a substitute purchaser or accept the original purchaser and allow the closing to occur.
“There are not many reported court and arbitration cases in Florida which have addressed the issue of the association's good cause to reject a purchase application. The principal reason to disapprove is there the proposed purchaser cannot comply with the valid restrictive covenants in the declaration or rules and regulations. Under these circumstances, not only does the association have the right, but it also has the duty, to reject.