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Florida Senate Bill 56: Changes to Florida’s Condominium Association and Homeowners’ Association Collections Procedures
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Florida Senate Bill 56: Changes to Florida’s Condominium Association and Homeowners’ Association Collections Procedures

August 19, 2021 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 7 minutes


On July 1, 2021, Senate Bill 56 went into effect along with Senate Bill 630. While both bills affect the laws governing Florida condominium and homeowners’ associations, Senate Bill 56, specifically, changed the collection and notification procedures for these associations. This article provides an overview of how Senate Bill 56 affected the manner in which Florida condominium and homeowners’ associations collect overdue assessments, record claims of lien, and provide notice to unit owners.

condominium association homeowners association senate bill 56 association collection practices

Changes to Florida Condominium Association Lien Procedures

Section 718.116 and Section 718.121, Florida Statutes

Senate Bill 56 changed the process through which Florida condominium associations may record claims of lien on condominium units.  Under the amended version of these statutes, before recording a claim of lien against a unit, Florida condominium associations provide the unit owner with a Notice of Intent to Record a Claim of Lien that substantially follows the following format:

NOTICE OF INTENT
TO RECORD A CLAIM OF LIEN

RE: Unit . . . . of . . . (name of association) . . .

The following amounts are currently due on your account to . . . (name of association) . . . , and must be paid within 45 days after your receipt of this notice of intent to record a Claim of Lien against your property no sooner than 45 days after your receipt of this letter, unless you pay in full the amounts set forth below:

Maintenance due . . . (dates) . . . $ . . . . .
Late fee, if applicable $ . . . . .
Interest through . . . (dates) . . . * $ . . . . .
Certified mail charges $ . . . . .
Other costs $ . . . . .
TOTAL OUTSTANDING $ . . . . .

*Interest accrues at the rate of . . . . percent per annum.

After providing such notice, condominium associations must wait forty-five (45) days before recording a claim of lien on the unit.  Before Senate Bill 56, Florida condominium associations were only required to provide thirty (30) days’ notice to a unit owner before recording a claim of lien.  The new 45-day notice period aligns the lien notice requirements for Florida condominium associations with the requirements for Florida homeowners’ associations.

In addition to extending the notice period for a Florida condominium association’s intent to record a claim of lien, Senate Bill 56 also extended the notice period for a Florida condominium association’s intent to foreclose a lien for unpaid assessments.  Under the amended form of Section 718.116, condominium associations must provide unit owners with forty-five (45) days’ notice of the association’s intent to foreclose a lien.  The amended statute provides a “Delinquent Assessment” notice form that condominium associations must substantially follow when providing unit owners with notice of intent to foreclose a lien.  The amended sample form is copied below:

DELINQUENT ASSESSMENT

This letter is to inform you a Claim of Lien has been filed against your property because you have not paid the . . . (type of assessment) . . . assessment to . . . (name of association) . . . . The association intents to foreclose the lien and collect the unpaid amount within 45 days of this letter being provided to you.

You owe the interest accruing from . . . (month/year) . . . to the present. As of the date of this letter, the total amount due with interest is $ . . . . . All costs of any action and interest from this day forward will also be charged to your account.

Any questions concerning this matter should be directed to . . . (insert name, addresses, and telephone numbers of association representative) . . . .

After providing such notice, condominium associations must wait forty-five (45) days before filing a foreclosure action.  If the condominium association fails to wait the full forty-five (45) days, and the unpaid assessments are paid before final judgment of foreclosure, the association will not be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the foreclosure action.

Changes to Florida Condominium Association and Homeowners’ Association Rights to Attorneys’ Fees

 Section 718.121(5) and Section 720.3085(3)(d), Florida Statutes

Senate Bill 56 not only changed laws specific to Florida condominium associations, but also those laws that impact the right to collect attorneys’ fees for both Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations.

The new language of Section 718.121(5), which governs condominium associations, and Section 720.3085(3)(d), which governs homeowners’ associations, mirrors that of its counterpart.  Now, neither type of associations can require payment of attorneys’ fees related to past due assessments without delivering written notice to the unit owner.  The written notice must specify the amount owed to the association and provide the unit owner thirty (30) days to pay the amount owed without an assessment of attorneys’ fees.  A sample form of a proper notice of late assessment can be found in the amended statutes and is copied below:

NOTICE OF LATE ASSESSMENT

RE: Unit . . . . of . . . (name of association) . . .

The following amounts are currently due on your account to . . . (name of association) . . . , and must be paid within 30 days of the date of this letter. This letter shall serve as the association’s notice of its intent to proceed with further collection action against your property no sooner than 30 days of the date of this letter, unless you pay in full the amounts set forth below:

Maintenance due . . . (dates) . . . $ . . . . .
Late fee, if applicable $ . . . . .
Interest through . . . (dates) . . . * $ . . . . .
TOTAL OUTSTANDING$ $ . . . . .

*Interest accrues at the rate of . . . . percent per annum.

Senate Bill 56 also specified procedural rules for delivery of notices of late assessments.  Under the amended statutes, Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations must send notices of late assessments to unit owners by first-class U.S. mail to the relevant unit owner’s last address as reflected in the association’s records.  If the unit owner’s last address is not the unit address, the respective association must also send such notice to the unit by first-class U.S. mail.

The amended statutes include a rebuttable presumption that an association has mailed notice in accordance with the law if a board member, officer, agent of the association, or manager licensed under part VIII of Chapter 468, Florida Statutes, provides a sworn affidavit of the mailing.

New Procedure for Changing Method of Delivery

Section 718.121(4)(b)-(c) and Section 720.3085(3)(c)(2)-(3), Florida Statutes

Senate Bill 56 also changed the procedure Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations must follow when changing the method by which they provide invoices and statements of accounts to unit owners.  Invoices and statements of accounts must be sent through first-class U.S. mail or electronic mail to the unit owners.  Before changing delivery methods for invoices and statements of accounts, Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations must provide unit owners with 30-days’ notice of the association’s intent to change the delivery method.  Additionally, unit owners must affirmatively acknowledge their understanding of the associations’ intent to change the delivery method before an association may change its delivery method for invoices and statements of accounts.

According to the Florida Senate, this addition was made to ensure that unit owners receive notice when their respective association changes its delivery method for invoices and statements of accounts.  Prior to this new addition, Florida law did not require associations to provide any specific notice when changing delivery methods, leaving unit owners potentially unaware changes to how they would receive invoices or statements of accounts.  By adding the requirement that associations send notice of a change in delivery method by first-class U.S. mail or electronic mail, the Florida Senate has ensured that unit owners in Florida community associations will know how their invoices and statements of accounts will be delivered.

Conclusion

Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations must educate themselves of the legislative changes adopted through Senate Bill 56. According to the Florida Senate, Senate Bill 56 may have a nominal negative financial impact on associations due to the increased time and effort that will go into collecting on late assessments. By complying with the requirements imposed and amended by Senate Bill 56, Florida community associations can further protect against lost time and costs.  Therefore, Florida condominium associations and homeowners’ associations that are uncertain about their compliance with Senate Bill 56’s changes to Florida law should contact a licensed attorney with any and all questions.

For more information about recent changes to Florida’s condominium and homeowners’ association laws, please read our blog post on Senate Bill 630.

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