Collections For Homeowners’ Associations
No one, whether a member of a community association board or a unit owner, enjoys the collections process. However, living in a community association comes with the requirement to pay all the required fees and assessments; a failure to do so means that the board must enforce collections proceedings against owners, which can be a process fraught with tension. Understanding the nuts and bolts of the process can be helpful.
Transparency Is Required
Because assessments and fees are the lifeblood of a community association, Florida gives homeowners’ associations and condo boards a considerable legal arsenal to use in obtaining payment. However, along with this freedom to use many different tools comes the responsibility not to start with the ‘nuclear’ option; rather, a board must act proportionately. In addition, while it is not specifically required, many associations also make a point of having a clearly written policy with regard to collections.
The first major step in the collections process for community associations is to send the delinquent owner a Notice of Delinquent Assessment; this comes with a 30-day period in which the amount can be paid off with no repercussions. If no payment is made, however, the association can take action after that 30-day period. It can also begin to assess late fees and interest, as long as the amounts are in keeping with the law and with the association’s governing documents.
Consequences Are Potentially Serious
If informing the owner of the delinquent assessment does not result in payment, another tool the association can use to compel the owner is recording a lien on the unit in question. It is not uncommon for an association to have a lien on the parcel as guarantee for assessments to be paid – and if an owner is delinquent, the association can simply record their lien in the appropriate county, which means that if the debt is not paid, the association may foreclose on the unit or parcel.
One thing to keep in mind if you owe assessments to your community association is that very often, the association will hire a third-party collections firm to deal with the issue. If they do, it is crucial to understand that they must conform to more rules and regulations than a homeowners’ association or condo board. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies to third-party debt collectors, and it requires that they must follow certain rules in order for their collections to be legitimate.
Call A Tampa Community Association Attorney
In general, no one wants to be delinquent on assessments – but sometimes, things simply happen. If you have questions about your rights in this matter, a Tampa community association attorney from the Seward Law Office can help to clarify things. We are ready and willing to try and assist you – contact us today to schedule a consultation.