2021 Statute Changes to Condo & HOAs Entitlement to Attorneys Fees from Owners

The Florida Legislature really came through for property owners this year! Effective, July, 2021, Condos & HOAs must send a statutory "Notice of Late Assessment" to owners prior to charging them any attorneys fees for collection. This is a big deal for owners. At Interra, we often see issues where an owner was late on one payment, but didn't realize it. The Association will then charge a late fee. The problem is, many times they don't tell the Owner about the late fee, so each new month they are charged another late fee because the "assessment" payment is short whatever the late fee was. (the statutes allow Associations to apply a payment to late fees first, then the new assessment). This results in another late fee for each following month until that late fee is paid.

This problem is why we recommend to our Clients that they request a ledger from the Association, at least quarterly, to make sure they are not running a balance that will be sent to the attorneys for collections. At some point the Association sends the file to their attorney for to commence the formal lien and foreclosure process. According to most Association governing documents, Associations are allowed to collect attorneys fees for the collection process from the Owner. All of a sudden, that one late payment becomes a $3,000+ problem with the risk of their home going into foreclosure. If the Owner cannot pay it right away, the attorney fees and penalties will just keep going up.

The Florida Legislature finally recognized this problem, and effective July 1, 2021, Condominiums & HOAs statutes were amended to require the Associations to give owners a 30 day written "Notice of Late Assessment". The Associations cannot charge any attorney fees until the 30 days has expired and the account remains unpaid.

(See Florida Statutes 718.121(5) for Condominiums & 720.3085(3)(d) for HOAs)