Can An Attorney Help My Association With Collecting Unpaid Dues?
Absolutely. When a condominium association or a homeowner’s association has a member that is delinquent, they can contact the member themselves or through the property manager that is working for the association but if those methods don’t work, then you need to have an attorney to step in. The attorney can step in at the point where a demand letter needs to be issued, they can go ahead and lien the property for delinquent assessments. I’m going to send out notifications that are required by statute as a condition before the association can actually file suit against the members so things have to be done correctly and they have to be done in accordance with not only the governing documents but also in accordance with Florida statutes.
If those notices are unsuccessful then the association can file suit either for a monetary judgment or the delinquencies or they can file for a foreclosure on the property and most associations that are organized in the state of Florida are non-profit corporations but they are corporations nonetheless which means they can’t represent themselves, they have to have counsel that represents them. So if there is going to be a suit against a member, they need to have an attorney who files suit to collect those sums and my firm has been very successful where the association has made efforts to collect and has been unsuccessful and then they’ve retained me and I either settle with the owner or obtain payment before a lawsuit needed to be filed and then, of course, I’ve had to go to trials with judicial sales of property once they are foreclosed. So attorneys can definitely help with the collection processes of HOAs and condominium associations.
Isn’t Hiring a Business Or Real Estate Attorney Expensive?
It all depends on the nature of the case. What I try to do is I try and consult with the client and usually I give free consultations anywhere from a half hour to an hour. If it runs over that, then I tell people that they need to pay some type of retainer although I’ve had people who went a little over the limit and I don’t charge for that. But I get an idea of what their needs are, whether I am representing the association or whether I am representing a member that’s had an issue with the association. In some instances, it takes a little bit of research and we may need to draft a letter and so I charge according to what may work in the beginning and if that doesn’t work, then I discuss with them at that point, what we tried in Phase 1 didn’t work and now we are in Phase 2. Now this is what it’s going to cost if you want to proceed with this. Litigation obviously can be expensive. Negotiations, arbitrations and mediations, less so and certainly settling cases with opposing parties can be done relatively cheap.
Also too, the person that is thinking about retaining an attorney needs to ask the attorney if they are the prevailing party in any type of litigation if they are entitled to attorney’s fees and costs. So they may have to pay monies upfront but they will be able to recoup them back from the other party if they are successful. The short answer is, it depends. It depends on the nature of the problem, it depends on the client and you get clients that will come in and say it’s a matter of principle and money is no object. While those are few and far between but sometimes they do happen. I am always mindful of people’s money and to try and get the best resolution with the least expense for the client.
What Can An HOA Or Condominium Association Regulate?
There are a number of factors when you talk about the ability of an HOA to regulate the activity of a member. When a person takes title, whether it’s through a purchase or whether it’s through some type of transfer as a gift or some type of bartering. Whenever a person takes title and they take it within a condominium or homeowner’s association, they’ve entered into a contractual agreement with the association that they are going to abide by the Florida statutes that regulate those associations, that they are going to abide by the declaration of covenants or declaration of condominiums, they are going to abide by the bylaws and the rules and regulations. Now, what are covered in all those? There are a number of things, probably the most common are modifications to the unit, somebody wants to put a screen, somebody wants to paint a certain color or somebody wants to expand the driveway. Sometimes they have to go through an architectural review committee and then sometimes they go directly to the board of directors for approval to make modifications to their own home.
There are restrictions that can be part of the governing documents that deal with the leasing of the property, whether or not you can lease the property, if there is a minimum amount of time you can lease it for or a maximum amount of time, whether or not the prospective tenant needs to go through the approval process, before the tenancy is approved by the association. A big issue that comes up a lot with people, obviously considering that a lot of people are animal lovers, is that there are restrictions. Some associations just completely ban all pets but there are some service animal requirements that HOA and Condo associations have to abide by regardless of whether or not they completely ban any animals involved. More commonly, associations will say you can have a limited number of pets and they can only be up to a certain weight and there are certain breeds that may be excluded based on at least, a perception of the breed being dangerous.
So those are just a few of the things that can be regulated through those associations and that the members have to follow.
For more information on Attorney’s Help In Collecting Unpaid Dues, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (772) 242-3600 today.
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