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Claim of Lien: The Association’s Upper Hand, Part 1

AGP_WMeric-1By: Eric L. Hostetler, Esq.

Whether you are president of your condominium association or homeowner’s association, you are aware of those few owners that are not paying their monthly or yearly assessments. This could be due to any number of reasons, but the effect is not singular. More likely than not, the board will meet and make the determination that the failure of one or more owners to not pay is a burden that has to be shared by the remaining, paying owners. Obviously, this is not a new scenario and one that is not embraced by other owners in these types of associations.

The first step employed by most associations is to send a letter to the non-paying owner, advising them of the overdue assessments, or maybe threatening to take away their voting rights at the next meeting. But if the association really wants to get the non-paying owners attention, all the board has to do is to look to the language of their own documents.

Gavel and Small Model House on Wooden Table.Most Bylaws for any type of association contain a form of the following language: The Association has a lien on each parcel for any unpaid assessments with interest and for reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the Association incident to the collection of the assessment or enforcement of the lien. The lien is effective from and after recording a claim of lien in the public records of the County.

For a condominium association, Section 718.166, Florida Statutes governs. For a claim of lien to be valid, it must state the description of the parcel, the name of the record owner, the name and address of the association, the amounts and dates due. §718.166(5)(b). However, the claim of lien is only good for one year and becomes ineffective thereafter unless an action to enforce the lien is filed.

Likewise, Section 720.3085, Florida Statutes governs homeowner’s associations and provides for similar actions and protections.

The claim of lien is a very effective tool that every association should be aware of. In my next article I will discuss the options for associations to enforce the claim of lien.

Here at , Widerman & Malek we handle all types of condominium and homeowner’s association needs. Feel free to give us a call with any questions.