Arbitration is a formal process in which the arbitrator has the authority to decide the dispute in accordance with the law. Unlike mediation, the resolution of a dispute arbitrator’s decision is not based on the voluntary acceptance of the parties; instead, the arbitrator has the authority to render a decision based on the facts involved in the parties’ dispute. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding on the parties if the parties agree in advance to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision, or if the matter is not filed in court for a new trial within 30 days of the arbitrator’s decision.
The party who files a petition for arbitration is the petitioner; the respondent is the party who files an answer to the petition for arbitration. The only persons entitled to be parties in an arbitration proceeding are unit owners and associations. If the dispute involves a tenant and the relief sought does not request the eviction of a tenant or occupant, the party respondents shall be the unit owner and tenant.
The rules governing arbitration allow for a party to be represented by an attorney or a qualified representative who has been approved by the arbitrator. An attorney or qualified representative for any party shall remain attorney or representative of record until the arbitrator receives a notice of withdrawal of counsel or representative. The correct mailing address for the client should be included in the notice.
Section 718.1255(4), Florida Statutes, requires that the petitioner provide proof that it provided each named respondent with advance written notice of the specific nature of the dispute. The notice must contain a demand for relief, and notice of intent to file an arbitration petition or other legal action in the absence of a resolution of the dispute. The petitioner must also provide a reasonable opportunity for the respondent to comply or to provide the relief sought. Failure to meet the conditions of this provision requires dismissal of the arbitration petition without prejudice.
Before filing your petition, it is a good idea to verify that the named respondent has not complied with the written demand or provided the relief you are seeking. For example, if an association is considering filing a petition for arbitration seeking entry of a final order requiring the owner to install hurricane shutters, the association should check immediately that the owner has not installed the required shutters or entered into a contract for the installation of shutters.
Under section 718.1255(4), Florida Statutes, a petition for arbitration must include supporting proof that each of the named respondents received advance written notice of intent to file an arbitration petition or other legal action in the absence of a resolution of the dispute prior to the filing of the petition. Failure to meet the conditions of this provision requires dismissal of the arbitration petition without prejudice.
Effective October 1, 1997, amendments to the Condominium and Cooperative Acts require the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes to develop a program to certify paid mediators to provide mediation of condominium and cooperative disputes. Pursuant to section 718.501(1)(m), Florida Statutes:
- The division shall develop a program to certify both volunteer and paid mediators to provide mediation of condominium disputes. The division shall provide, upon request, a list of such mediators to any association, unit owner, or other participant in arbitration proceedings under s. 718.1255 requesting a copy of the list. The division shall include on the list of volunteer mediators only the names of persons who have received at least 20 hours of training in mediation techniques or who have mediated at least 20 disputes. In order to become initially certified by the division, paid mediators must be certified by the Supreme Court to mediate court cases in either county or circuit courts. However, the division may adopt, by rule, additional factors for the certification of paid mediators, which factors must be related to experience, education, or background. Any person initially certified as a paid mediator by the division must, in order to continue to be certified, comply with the factors or requirements imposed by rules adopted by the division.
The individuals listed below have met the minimum requirements of section 718.501(1)(m), Florida Statutes, and Chapter 61B-25, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). These individuals are available to provide volunteer mediation of condominium and cooperative disputes. Pursuant to Rule 61B-25.002, F.A.C.:
The Division will remove from the list any person who accepts compensation or reimbursement for the mediation of a condominium dispute when the mediator was selected from the list or who submits false information in the application or documentation required by Rule 61B-25.003, F.A.C. The Division does not endorse or in any way approve any volunteer mediator appearing on the list.
All arrangements for the mediation are to be handled entirely by the disputing parties and the mediator. The cost of travel and incidentals, if any, is to be assumed entirely by the mediator.
The current list of qualified mediators is provided below. Please be aware that the scheduling of mediators and payment arrangements are to be handled entirely by the disputing parties and the mediator.
All requests for publications, documents, forms, applications for licenses, permits and other similar certifications can be obtained by contacting the Customer Contact Center.
Chevonne Christian, Director
Division of Florida Condominiums,
Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0791