• Ryan Torrens

Battling the HOA, Part 1

Good Morning!


I hope you all have had a great week. This week, I'd like to provide some useful information on homeowners associations and the power they hold here in Florida.


We receive a lot of calls in our consumer law practice from consumers who are having disputes with their homeowners association regarding past due assessments. In Florida, you can easily lose your home, even if you are current on your mortgage, if you fall behind on your homeowners association dues.


If you fall behind on your homeowners association dues, Florida Statute 720.3085 authorizes the association to record a lien against your property and to foreclose on your home, even if its your homestead. If you do not settle with the association or prevail on the merits of the case, the association will get a Final Judgment of Foreclosure and auction off your home. The point is: if you are having a dispute with your association, take it very seriously.


One of the most important things for you to know is that Florida Statute 720.3085 also authorizes the association to collect attorney's fees and costs in attempting to collect the past due assessments and foreclose on your home. Here's how this typically plays out:


The association sends you a letter, stating that you owe a past due assessment, let's say $200.00. You contact the association and let them know you will take care of this and provide a date by which it will be paid. As the association is not required to offer payment arrangements, now you receive a letter from a law office demanding not only the $200.00 for the past due assessment, but also $375.00 extra for attorney's fees. Now, this has escalated into a $575.00 problem. You contact the association and complain that the attorney's fees are unnecessary and unjustified. You then send a check only for the $200.00 to pay the past due assessment. A few months later, you are served with a lawsuit whereby the association is foreclosing on your home. How does this happen?


Florida Statute 720.3085 provides that any payment received by an association shall be applied first to any interest accrued, then to any administrative late fee, then to any costs and attorney's fees incurred, and then finally to the assessment. In the scenario above, the $200.00 payment you sent was only applied to any late fees and attorney's fees. You still have a running delinquency with the association.


I can't tell you how many consumers I have seen fall into this trap. I profoundly disagree with this law and am hopeful that some of our pro-consumer legislators will advocate for a change to this law to protect Florida homeowners.

This email is focused on the issue of past due assessments and, at least at this point, I am not addressing other issues such as special assessments and fines. I wanted to 1) introduce you to the key Florida law governing Florida homeowners associations 2) explain that these assessment disputes can be very serious and can result in the forced auction of your home and 3) explain how your assessment payments are applied in this disputes.


Next week, I will offer some recommendations on how to protect yourself and your home during such assessment disputes with your homeowners association.


Stay tuned...

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.


Best,

Ryan Torrens, Consumer Litigation Attorney

Disclaimer: The information provided in this email does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this email is for general informational purposes only.


www.torrenslawgroup.com


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Battling the HOA, Part 1 - August 4th, 2019 by Ryan Torrens  - PDF

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