Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Lien and Foreclosure Process in Florida

The association is required to give notice to the homeowner prior to filing the lien by sending two copies of the notice, one by regular mail and one by certified mail, that includes the amount due and the deadline for payment. For HOAs this is 45 days and for condos this is 30 days. If you missed payments, the lien will include the assessments, interest, attorneys fees, and if the governing documents allow, late fees. Once you are turned over to an attorney for collections any payments are applied to all the fees first and assessments last. 

After the lien is recorded the association must then go through the same process to foreclose before filing to foreclose on your home. Once you receive a summons, you have 20 days to file an answer and affirmative defenses or a motion to dismiss. The association will file a motion for summary judgment, which means there are no disputed facts and the association should get your home without a trial. 

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE THIS WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY. Your best option is to negotiate a payment plan or file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to put this in a 5-year payment plan. Chapter 7 will not save the home. 

If you missed any payments, fighting over the amount with the association is useless in almost all instances because it will generate attorneys fees that you are liable for and must be paid to keep your home. The courts will award the attorneys 100% of their attorneys fees if you are at fault, even if it's a small amount and their numbers are wrong. 

The courts are facing having their funding cut thanks to the foreclosure cases clogging up the dockets. In many cases good case law is being ignored to move the cases out of the courts and owners are being denied justice and due process because of budget concerns. This has changed the owners slim chance to virtually no chance, but that's my personal opinion.