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Charles B. Jimerson
Managing Partner

Nikos Westmoreland
Director of Business Development

Jimerson Birr welcomes inquiries from the media and do our best to respond to deadlines. If you are interested in speaking to a Jimerson Birr lawyer or want general information about the firm, our practice areas, lawyers, publications, or events, please contact us via email or telephone for assistance at (904) 389-0050.

Condominium Elections are Approaching – Is Your Association Following the Rules?

September 9, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

The end of the calendar year means that most condominium associations are gearing up for their annual meeting and election of new board members. For many condominiums, this is a routine event, but for others, this may foster heated and contentious lobbying and under-handed tactics resulting in administrative challenges to the election process, and maybe even litigation. The current board and property manager for a condominium association should have a detailed understanding of the condominium election process. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has published a State of Florida Condominium Election Brochure covering most of the procedural aspects of condominium elections. This blog will summarize important deadlines and considerations for these elections.

Condominium Assessment Liens in Florida, Part IV: Overcoming Defenses and Sale of the Unit

August 31, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

A condominium association’s governing documents in conjunction with Section 718.116, Florida Statutes, are the genesis of the condominium association’s authority to impose and perfect assessment liens against individually owned units within the community. This four-part blog will discuss the condominium association’s right to lien, perfecting the condominium association lien, and collection practices for condominium associations. Part IV of this blog will discuss overcoming Unit Owner defenses to the foreclosure and the ultimate sale of the condominium unit.

Just like all other lawsuits, the unit owner is entitled to assert defenses. Below is a discussion on the most common.

Condominium Assessment Liens in Florida, Part III: Assessment Foreclosure Actions

August 24, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

A condominium association may bring an action in its name to foreclose a lien for assessments in the manner a mortgage of real property is foreclosed, and it may also bring an action to recover a money judgment for the unpaid assessments. The association is entitled to recover its reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in either a lien foreclosure action or an action to recover a money judgment for unpaid assessments. See 718.116(6)(a). Condominium lien foreclosure is not subject to the alternative dispute resolution proceedings found under Section 718.1255, Florida Statutes, which means that the parties do not have to engage in mediation or arbitration.

Community Association Members’ Right to Information

August 23, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

The right of a community association member to information differs slightly depending on whether the person is a member of a homeowners’ association or a condominium association. However, in analyzing a person’s right to information, it is important to understand that the relevant statutes are meant to balance the member’s access to information while protecting the association from a member whose requests are harassing (intentional or not).

Condominium Assessment Liens in Florida, Part II: Perfecting Condominium Liens

August 17, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

The Florida Condominium Act sets forth the process and procedure for perfecting a condominium assessment lien for delinquent assessments. A condominium lien creates an interest in real property in favor of the association. In many instances, it has been said that the association has a “perpetual” right to lien, so long as the association remains in existence. The condominium lien will take its priority in right based on the date the declarations were recorded. Because Florida association liens require the inclusion of a legal description, and liens create real property rights, only attorneys who are members of The Florida Bar may draft liens. A non-Florida attorney’s preparation of a lien on Florida real property constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. This is so, even if the non-attorney is a licensed community association manager. See The Florida Bar re Advisory Opinion — Activities of Community Ass’n Managers, 681 So.2d 1119 (Fla. 1996).

Is Your Association’s Declaration Stuck in the Past?

August 16, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Florida’s community associations are largely governed by two main sources of authority: (1) the Florida Condominium Act (for condo associations) and the Florida HOA Act (for homeowners’ associations); and (2) the association’s governing documents. While court opinions, State of Florida arbitration decisions and the Florida Administrative Code also govern community associations, these sources largely rely on the Florida Statutes, association governing documents, or both, for any given issue. Concerning the hierarchy of this authority, the Florida Condominium Act and the Florida HOA Act (collectively referred to as the “Acts”) will trump community association documents (i.e., declarations, bylaws, articles of incorporation and rules and regulations). Stated another way, the Acts ultimately have the final say if the governing documents are silent or contradict the Acts on any issue. Because association documents are subordinate to the Acts, an association’s declaration that does not contain Kaufman Language is stuck in the past.

Condominium Assessment Liens in Florida, Part I: Authority for Condominium Liens

August 12, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

A condominium association’s governing documents in conjunction with Section 718.116, Florida Statutes, are the genesis of the condominium association’s authority to impose and perfect assessment liens against individually owned units and parcels within the community. This four-part blog will discuss the condominium association’s right to lien, perfecting the condominium association lien, and collection practices for condominium associations. Part I will discuss the condominium association’s authority for asserting liens.

Your Homeowners’ Association may not be Taking Advantage of a Favorable Tax Break

July 25, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

A major expense for many homeowners’ and condominium owners’ associations is the cost of the utilities for common areas of the communities. The good news for such associations, however, is that they are entitled to an exemption for the sales tax related to their utilities as long as a few requirements are met—a fact of which many associations are not even aware.

Does Your Association’s Declaration Preclude Any Recovery From Foreclosing Lenders?

July 12, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

After the housing bubble collapse, the Florida Legislature ratified numerous amendments to the Florida Condominium Act and Homeowners’ Association Act to provide associations with more power in collecting past-due assessments. One amendment obligated lenders that foreclose on properties owing past-due assessments to pay, at the very least, a certain statutory amount to the governing association (see Fla. Stat. §§ 718.116; 720.3085). Nevertheless, if an association’s declaration waives any and all liability of a mortgage lender, then that association is precluded from collecting even the statutorily approved amount. The pressing question for all board members and community association managers is whether or not your governing documents allow your association to collect from foreclosing lenders. If not, your association could be missing out on thousands of dollars.

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