Q&A: Threat of Foreclosure

Q I am three months behind in my homeowner's association payments. Can the condominium foreclose on my unit? My mortgage payments are up to date, and I called my lender who said no, they cannot foreclose. I wrote a letter to the board asking for a payment plan in January of this year, but no response as of yet. I know I owe the money but I was sick for a period of time. I am planning to pay the back fees with my taxes. What is my obligation?

---Fear of Foreclosure

A “Florida law allows a homeowner's association and a condominium association with the authority to foreclose a claim of lien for unpaid assessments owed by the owner to the association,” says attorney Roberto C. Blanch, a shareholder attorney with the Coral Gables-based law firm of Siegfried, Rivera, Hyman, Lerner, De La Torre, Mars & Sobel, P.A.

“In addition to the applicable Florida law governing your community association, the attorneys pursuing collection of your delinquent assessments will have to comply with the procedures and other requirements contained in your association's governing documents. Furthermore, contrary to the information given to you by your lender, a community association’s claim of lien may be foreclosed notwithstanding your payments being made on your mortgage loan. That said, the person or entity taking title to the home or unit resulting from the public sale following the community association foreclosure action will likely have to acquire title subject to the lender's recorded mortgage lien. As for your request for a payment plan, I suggest you keep trying to work something out with your association's board of directors. While there is no law requiring that they provide you with a payment plan, many associations in Florida provide owners with some sort of payment plan affording delinquent owners with the opportunity to pay down delinquent assessment balances while staying current on assessments becoming due during the payment plan. The members of the board of directors for such associations have found payment plans to be a helpful means of assisting with cash flow while keeping legal fees and collection costs low. As to your plan to pay the assessments with your taxes, your association board may prefer this to happen with the payment of your income tax payment rather than your ad valorem property taxes payable in November.”     

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