“Bought a house through foreclosure sale in Florida county. No lien filed by HOA so not aware of HOA dues owed. Are we liable?”

I came across this question posed on Avvo.com a few months ago:

We bought a house through the foreclosure sale in Florida. No lien filed by HOA so we were not aware of HOA dues owed. They are also charging 18% interest rate on over $4K in assessments owed and late fees per month. The lawyer is charging close to $3K with no lien filed and only one answer to a motion. I received title to the property but do I really owe over $8K?

This person bought a house in a community through a foreclosure sale (which was probably an online auction). The prior owners were in arrears of HOA assessments and late fees to the tune of $4,000. Additionally, the HOA’s attorney racked up another $3,000 in fees.

The new owner, who was not the mortgagee, is liable for payment of the full amount, including the HOA’s attorney’s fees, pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 720.3085 (2)(b) and (3)(b):

A parcel owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous parcel owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title. This liability is without prejudice to any right the present parcel owner may have to recover any amounts paid by the present owner from the previous owner. F.S. 720.3085 (2)(b).

 

Purchasers can avoid these unrecorded HOA and Condo surprises by ordering Association letters, which include all outstanding assessments, late fees and attorneys’ fees, for a particular property. Purchasers can also avoid surprises from some other unrecorded liabilities, like fines for code enforcement violations, unpaid waste, water, sewer bills, etc. by ordering a lien search. Premier Lien Research, LLC specializes in lien searches and obtaining Association letters in the state of Florida.

No matter who you are, if you are purchasing a home in Florida or helping somebody purchase a home, you need to do your homework to avoid all “surprises.” Knowledge is power; knowledge is peace of mind.

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