“There are a lot of different law firms that have gravitated toward practicing community association and real estate law, but we are the originals,” said Michael Hyman, founder and senior partner of Hyman & Mars. “We specialize in it and over the course of history have built an entire practice around it. No one quite has the expertise that we do.”
“We cater to any and all needs of community associations,” said Gary M. Mars, partner. “In fact, we transcend the boards of directors of the associations. They change over the course of time, but we’re still here. We truly represent the general interests of the unit owners to the best of our ability.”
Michael L. Hyman, AV-rated attorney by Martindale Hubbell and designated a Florida Super Lawyer in construction litigation for three years running, has been actively engaged in representing community associations since 1970. He was appointed to the first Florida Condominium Association by Governor Reuben Askew and has served as a member of the board of directors of the Greater Miami Chapter of Community Associations Institute for seven terms. He is the author of The Florida Bar article Alternatives to Recreation Lease Litigation – Structuring the Buy-Out and is co-author of “Florida Condominium Law & Practice,” about how condo associations operate.
Hyman was inducted into the Community Association Law Institute College of Community Association Lawyers as a member of the charter class, an elite group of Community Association attorneys from around the country who have distinguished themselves by exhibiting the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct. He was designated a facilitator for a series of educational programs provided by Community Associations Institute and the state of Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation, Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominium and Mobile Homes. He is a frequent speaker at the University of Miami Cluster Housing Seminar and the Community Association Law Seminar.
Gary M. Mars joined the firm in 1991, developing an expertise in all areas of community association representation, including construction defect negotiation and litigation, turnover representation and covenant preparation and enforcement. His practice also includes representation of a select group of developers in drafting and filing all documents related to the creation of community associations.
Mars, also a member of the Community Association Institute, has lectured extensively on community association operations, legislation and related legal rulings and has been designed a facilitator to conduct educational programs by the state of Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation, Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominium and Mobile Homes.
“What began as a practice of representing associations that were more comprised of retirees and of second residences is now the quintessential type of home ownership in South Florida,” said Mars. “Therefore, today, we deal with all types of condominium associations from 3 units to 2,500 concentrated in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties with additional work on the west coast of Florida.”
“Furthermore, in addition to our long-established history of practicing community association law, what makes us a truly unique firm and true boutique law office, is that the partners are involved with the clients,” said Hyman.
“We are truly hands on,” he added. “Although we have various departments and associates who work on accounts, both of us are completely involved with each client and every case.”
“We represent hundreds of associations in South Florida market,” said Mars. “We provide general association representation, litigation support and our specialty is construction defect litigation, essentially association claims for defective construction. This includes everything from enforcement actions, arbitration actions, interpretation of association documents, amending their documents, preparing documents for associations and providing general legal counsel.”
“We equate our practice to going to a medical specialist,” he added. “If you have heart issues, you see a cardiologist. If you have community association issues, you come to us. As we said before, we have a very high rate of return from a dedicated client base. And the other part that’s interesting is that we get a lot of referrals from other lawyers and management companies who are aware of our specialty.”
“We work well with the managers selected by the boards because we understand the interrelated needs of the board and the homeowners or developers. We deal with the issues being presented uniquely, finding solutions that are custom made to suit each association’s individual needs.”
“We’re people oriented,” said Hyman. “Therefore, in order to keep a community moving in a positive direction, our goal is to solve problems by diffusing the personality component of the dispute.”
Most recently, they’ve been involved in cases ranging from people who want to circumvent the pet restrictions in a community by claiming they have a disability to litigating over the complex construction defect issues.
“There are many more intricate and technical issues we are dealing with nowadays,” said Mars. “There are more mixeduse residences that include restaurants, hotels, enormous recreational amenities in a single structure condo building that need negotiating or repair. It’s no longer just a simple condo.”
“Each case is unique,” he continued. “As a result of the housing boom, we see design and building flaws more and more because buildings were erected fast with less attention to detail and even less supervision. These include rooftop rights; design issues from when the building was blueprinted, such as sewerage exhaust that blows back into a building as a result of a faulty design; major waterproofing issues, and balcony systems that were designed wrong and therefore built incorrectly.”
“This area of law has grown so much and in so many directions,” said Mars, “that our collection department now contains several thousand liens and foreclosure files.”
“As for what’s next,” said Hyman, “we have an excellent name in the world of community association and real estate law. We are well respected and well regarded and our business plan is to continue providing quality legal service to community associations.”