BEFORE YOU INSTALL THAT NEW RING DOORBELL
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published January 11, 2021
becoming impossible to keep up with technology. Just when you
think you bought the latest, greatest computer or cell phone the
world may ever see, a month later thereís new technology that
makes you device already seem outdated. Itís a never ending
cycle. Well, one new technological advance is the RING
doorbell, which is a doorbell that letís you see who is at your
front door, by simply glancing at your cell phone. I have one
for my home and another for my office. It even letís you speak
to and hear the person who is at your door, even when you are
not home. In fact, you can be anywhere in the world. It really
is fantastic technology that everyone is taking advantage of.
BUT IF YOU LIVE IN A CONDOMINIUMÖ..YOU CANíT.
again review Florida Statute 718.113(2)(a):
Except as otherwise provided in this section, there shall be no
material alteration or substantial additions to the common
elements or to real property which is association property,
except in a manner provided in the declaration as originally
recorded or as amended under the procedures provided therein. If
the declaration as originally recorded or as amended under the
procedures provided therein does not specify the procedure for
approval of material alterations or substantial additions, 75
percent of the total voting interests of the association must
approve the alterations or additions before the material
alterations or substantial additions are commenced. This
paragraph is intended to clarify existing law and applies to
associations existing on July 1, 2018.
So the question
isÖ..is the installation of a RING doorbell on your condominium
front door, a material alteration to the common elements that
requires a vote of the owners? In Persi v. Playa Del Mar
Association, Case No. 19-02-7292, March 16, 2020, Arbitrator
Keith Hope held that it was and upheld the associationís right
to remove it. The arbitrator first again indicated the
definition of a material alteration:
ď[A]s applied to buildings, the term
material alteration or addition Ďmeans to palpably or
perceptively vary or change the form, shape, elements or
specifications of a building from its original design or plan,
or existing conditions, in such a manner as to appreciably
affect or influence its function, use or appearance
Applying this test, the Arbitrator held that Petitioners'
installation of the ring video
change to the appearance
of the common property door, and required installation of
electrical wiring within the common property
walls. Moreover, it is undisputed that Petitioners' ring video
doorbell contains a security camera that captures both audio and
video of persons and activities within its field of view.
Installation of a security camera on or in a condominium's
property is deemed a material alteration. Dellagrotta v. West
Coast Vista Association, Inc., Arb. Case No. 2013-02-7351,
Summary Final Order (October 4, 2013).
itís hard to say the arbitratorís reasoning was not correct,
arbitration cases have long held that when the Board wants to
use the benefits of new technology, itís suddenly not a material
alteration but a wise business judgment decision.
In the arbitration case
of A. N. Inc. v. Seaplace
Association, Inc., Arb. Case No. 98-4251, Summary
Final Order (Oct. 29, 1998), replacement of all of the windows
in the condominium with an upgraded version, with a tilt-out
cleaning feature, tinting and heavier glass, was held not to
require a unit owner vote. The arbitrator noted that the choice
of the type of window used is a decision within the board's
business judgment and that ďa board in the exercise of its
well-reasoned and documented judgment could and should take
advantage of changes in technology, building materials, and improved designs
...Ē See also, Kreitman v. The
Decoplage Condominium Association, Inc., Arb. Case
No. 98-4711, Final Order (July 30, 1999) (board's decision to
replace worn hallway carpets with longer lasting solution-dyed,
woven carpet was not subject to unit owner approval).
In light of these cases, why are upgraded windows and carpets
not considered a material alteration, but upgraded doorbells
that take advantage of the latest technology are? Just like the
Board, I donít see the harm in owners having the right to take
advantage of ďchanges in technologyĒ and having the ability to
install a doorbell that provides better safety, security and
ease of use.
Whatís your thoughts?
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated from
the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for more than 2
decades and is the owner of Glazer
and Sachs, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples,
Fort Myers and Tampa.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host
of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs
at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
He is the first attorney in the
State of Florida that designed a course that certifies
condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium
Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000
Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit
Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated
dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric
also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the
best interest of Florida community association members.