In Florida, a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and Condominium Association (Condo) can foreclose on your property for a variety of reasons, including non-payment of assessments, unpaid fines, and the failure to fix cited issues
Under Florida law, HOA Foreclosure and Condo Foreclosure is extremely common. Many homeowners originally from other states are unaware that an HOA or Condo can take priority over even a bank’s mortgage in some rare cases. An HOA foreclosure can start as something as small as a missed $100 assessment payment and quickly turn into a $4,000 – $5,000 nightmare. Many attorney’s choose not to defend an HOA Foreclosure case or a Condo foreclosure case because they find that not too many foreclosure defenses exist. Other attorneys may turn down a HOA foreclosure case because the feel that fighting an HOA in foreclosure is like putting out a fire with gasoline.
I am different – I think everyone is entitled to a defense, so long as a good faith argument exists. Additionally, the sums originally in dispute in the Foreclosure could be minimal – less than an attorney retainer – but it doesn’t stop there. The issue generally becomes a pending HOA Foreclosure lawsuit or Condo Foreclosure Lawsuit after the association has sat on its rights for months or even years. Once your case is at that point, where it is filed with a court (generally, a county court) what was once a “small debt” could be multiple times what it was when you last received notification of it.
There are very few HOA Foreclosure and Condo Foreclosure Defenses. They are often extremely technical, Knowing when to bring a particular defense is the key to winning at trial or resolving your dispute
Many of these defenses are created by statute. If you are involved in a bank foreclosure, there may be some additional arguments on your side. Knowing what to argue in an HOA foreclosure is the key here. Having a in-depth knowledge of the governing documents for the HOA or Condo is the foundation to that defense. Many times, I see a defense that is created only by the fact that I read the bylaws for the association that is suing my client and the attorney that filed the lawsuit did not.
Often these are notice requirements. In other cases, it may be that the HOA does not have the right to file a foreclosure lawsuit. Having an attorney that will take the time to read your governing documents (some are in excess of 70 pages) and frame targeted defenses will make a world of difference for your case.