Tampa Collection Of Delinquent Assessments Lawyer
Collecting delinquent assessments is not a fun part of anyone’s job, but it is necessary to protect the association as well as maintain property values for all members. It is, therefore, a matter of fairness as well as financial stability. Seward Law Office practices exclusively in the areas of real estate and HOA/COA law in Tampa, St. Petersburg and surrounding areas. If you need help collecting delinquent assessments from homeowners or condo unit owners in your homeowners association or condominium association, contact Seward Law Office for legal advice and technical assistance from an experienced Tampa HOA and COA lawyer.
What Are HOA and COA Assessments?
HOAs and COAs operate on a limited budget, which is hopefully adequate to meet regular daily and monthly operational needs. Homeowners or unit owners are assessed monthly dues, also known as common expense assessments, to pay for these needs. Common expense assessments pay for expenses such as:
- Utility bills to maintain streetlights or other lighting
- Swimming pool maintenance
- Sanitation/trash pickup
- Maintenance, repair and upkeep of community facilities – activity centers, gyms, golf courses
In addition to regular, budgeted expenses, emergencies might arise that require the Board to impose special assessments to cover unexpected expenses. Special assessments might cover, for instance:
- Sinkhole damage
- Hurricane damage
- Major repairs or renovations such as painting or installing a new roof for a community building
HOAs and COAs may also be required by Florida law or their own governing documents to maintain a reserve fund to meet emergency needs like those described above. When a reserve fund exists, members may be assessed annually to keep the fund at a certain level. Unfortunately, members often vote to waive annual assessments for reserve funds to keep more money in their pockets. When disaster strikes or an emergency requires major repairs, the Board has no choice but to impose a special assessment.
Special individual assessments are likely to be an unwelcome, unexpected and significant hit to property owners’ pocketbooks. While owners in challenging financial straits might have difficulty keeping up with monthly dues, members hit with special assessments are more likely to be angry over the assessment and unwilling to pay, regardless of their ability to pay.
How Does Seward Law Office Help With the Collection of Delinquent Assessments?
It’s a simple matter of economics; if members don’t pay their monthly dues or assessments, the HOA can’t operate. The first recourse for the association should always be to try to reason with the delinquent homeowner, explaining why the assessment is necessary and how it’s only fair that every member is required to pay their dues and assessments. This approach is especially important for self-managed associations that don’t have an outside property management association in charge of collections. A next step might be to impose financial penalties for nonpayment as allowed by association rules, although this method might only increase the size of the member’s delinquency.
When members refuse to pay or start to rack up a substantial delinquency, it’s time to call in legal help. Seward Law Office can issue demand letters that often get members’ attention and show them how serious the situation has become. If necessary, we can also proceed with lawsuits to recover delinquent assessments. The Board’s attorney fees and costs in such lawsuits can often be recovered from the homeowner under Florida law. Eviction is an option in certain instances, as well.
Florida HOA law also allows HOAs to impose liens on parcels for unpaid assessments. Under Florida law, COAs must wait 30 days, and HOAs must wait 45 days before recording a lien based on unpaid assessments. Additionally, foreclosing on a lien is a judicial process with strict timelines and procedures that must be followed to be successful. Advice and representation from a skilled and knowledgeable real estate attorney are essential.
Owners can sometimes challenge assessments by appearing before the Board or even going to court, depending on policies and procedures established in the HOA governing documents. Tampa HOA attorney Alicia Seward can represent the HOA at board-level hearings or in court, in addition to providing technical assistance in recording a lien or foreclosing on a mortgage.
Efficient and Effective Legal Help with Collection of Delinquent Assessments for Tampa HOAs & COAs
For help with the collection of delinquent assessments in a Tampa HOA or COA, call Seward Law Office at 813-252-6789 to discuss your options with a skilled and experienced Tampa HOA attorney.