When an association files a lawsuit pertaining to matters of common interest, the lawsuit is typically filed as a class on behalf of the owners that make up the association (i.e., the association’s members). How do you deal with an arbitration provision that is included in an owner’s purchase-and-sale agreement or recorded in the deed? The recent opinion in Lennar Homes, LLC v. Martinique at the Oasis Neighborhood Association, Inc., 47 Fla. L. Weekly D15c (Fla 3rd DCA 2021) dealt with this exact issue with a homeowner’s association ruling that the association was required to arbitrate its latent construction defect claims against the developer (homebuilder).
In this case, a community in Miami consisted of 26 townhouse buildings. There was a broad arbitration provision in each owner’s purchase-and-sale agreement that included disputes relating to property damage. Further, with each closing, a special warranty deed was recorded that included a nearly identical arbitration provision.
The association became aware of latent defects relating to the exterior walls of the buildings and filed a lawsuit against the developer (homebuilder). The developer moved to compel the dispute to arbitration which was denied by the trial court because there was no specific agreement between the association and the developer that required arbitration and the lawsuit dealt with matters that the association was obligated to maintain.