Several people who are contemplating voluntary foreclosure have asked me whether they should continue paying their homeowner or condominium dues during the foreclosure process. I have recommended that homeowners stop paying homeowner dues if they are voluntarily surrendering their homes to their mortgage lender. I believed that the homeowners due would be paid by the party who ultimately purchases the property from the mortgage lender in order to clear the HOA’s lien on the property. I have changed my opinion after another attorney pointed out a Florida statute that may impose personal liability for homeowner’s dues. Florida Statute 718.116(1)(a) states that homeowners are personally liable for assessments by a condominium association. Florida Statute 720.3085 states that homeowners are personally liable for assessments by a homeowners association.
I do not practice law in the area of homeowner association law. I am unaware of any condo or homeowner association which has pursued a judgment against a former owner for unpaid assessments or dues after the unit has gone through the foreclosure process. I am concerned about this liability because the condo and homeowner statutes provide for awards of attorneys fees to the association’s lawyers for their collection of unpaid dues and assessments. A relatively small association debt could become a substantial judgment when potential attorneys fees are included. Therefore, the more conservative strategy for someone anticipating foreclosure is to continue paying homeowner’s association dues through the date of sale.
Real estate taxes are different. Tax liability is usually much greater than the amount of association dues, and I am unaware of laws permitting the government to pursue personal liability for unpaid property taxes. I continue to recommend that people who are voluntarily surrendering properties to their mortgage lender through foreclosure not pay real estate tax bills.
posted by Jonathan Alper, asset protection and bankruptcy attorney, Orlando, Florida