Many have read the recent news reports from Connecticut, where a condominium association threatened an owner with fines of $50 per day until she removed a mezuzah from her doorpost. Amezuzah is a parchment inscribed with religious texts and attached in a case to many Jewish homes as a sign of faith.
Interestingly, at this particular Connecticut condominium association, owners were allowed to affix Christmas wreaths and crucifixes to their doors, but owners could not affix mezuzahs to their doorposts. Fortunately, the owner and her attorneys were able to convince that particular board as to the error of its ways and it was recently announced that the owner would be allowed to post a mezuzah on her door without any penalty.
Can a condominium association interfere with what many deem a fundamental religious right? Interestingly enough, unit owners do not typically own the doors and door frames to their units – these are usually common elements that are owned jointly by all of the unit owners which are maintained by the condominium association. When changes are made to such common elements, particularly material changes, a vote of seventy five percent of the voting interests in the association is required to allow a change. Therefore, the posting of a mezuzah could constitute such a material change.
The Florida Legislature wisely looked at this issue and has specifically protected the right of condominium owners to affix mezuzahs to their door frames, so long as it does not exceed three inches wide, six inches high and one and half inches deep.
It is also noteworthy that many condo associations’ governing documents allow for holiday displays by unit owners on their doors and balconies for all faiths. Accordingly, Aventurans can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that their rights to religious expression have been protected by the Florida Legislature.
Joshua Krut is a Partner at Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Boniske, P.L., where he serves as Chairperson of the Community Association, Club & Resort Practice Group. The Firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables and Mr. Krut can be reached at 954.763.4242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.