- posted: Nov. 23, 2022
Disputes between residents and associations, such as homeowner’s associations and condominium associations, are not uncommon. Sometimes the disputes are between residents themselves. It might involve a parking situation, a barking dog or unruly pet, or other noise, smell, or sight problem which requires attention. When such disputes arise, the parties need a way to resolve the issues economically and efficiently to avoid the time and expenses associated with hiring a lawyer and heading to court. This not only benefits the residents but the homeowner’s association or condominium association as well.
The Florida legislature has recognized that these types of disputes are better resolved outside the courtroom. Thus, under Florida Statute 720.311, the Legislature provided that before filing a lawsuit, an aggrieved party must first offer to mediate the case. If the party served with the offer to participate in pre-suit mediation fails to respond or refuses to mediate, the offering party may proceed with the lawsuit and seek an award of attorney’s fees or costs incurred in attempting to obtain the mediation.
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party (the mediator) gets involved to try to facilitate a resolution to the dispute. While the mediator does not decide any factual issues or disputes, nor give any legal advice, he/she will try to assist the parties in coming to a resolution, thereby avoiding the costly and time-consuming adversarial process litigation does bring. On occasion, only some issues can be resolved at mediation. Often, when cases do not resolve at mediation, it at least opens an avenue of discussion between the parties. Frequently a resolution is reached days or even weeks later, either between the parties or between their attorneys, and the mediator should always be willing to help along the way.
Mediation is also a confidential process. By law, no one, not even a judge, will be aware of any discussions, offers, demands or admissions made by the other party during the mediation. That liberates the parties to speak freely and openly with each other. A lawsuit, on the other hand, is adversarial, public and liable to be seen by anyone.
By mediating a dispute that you may have with a neighbor or an association, you might be able to resolve your differences with the other party or parties, and avoid incurring substantial and unnecessary delays and expenses. So, whether you’re an association or an individual, mediating your disputes makes good sense.
Contact Romaguera Law Group to assist you in resolving your disputes through mediation at (561) 472-1077. Raul Romaguera is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator #37476R.