Section 718.116, Florida Statutes 2005
718.116 Assessments; liability; lien and priority; interest; collection.--
(1)(a) A unit owner, regardless of how his or her title has been acquired, including by purchase at a foreclosure sale or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, is liable for all assessments which come due while he or she is the unit owner. Additionally, a unit owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous 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 owner may have to recover from the previous owner the amounts paid by the owner.
(b) The liability of a first mortgagee or its successor or assignees who acquire title to a unit by foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure for the unpaid assessments that became due prior to the mortgagee's acquisition of title is limited to the lesser of:
1. The unit's unpaid common expenses and regular periodic assessments which accrued or came due during the 6 months immediately preceding the acquisition of title and for which payment in full has not been received by the association; or
2. One percent of the original mortgage debt. The provisions of this paragraph apply only if the first mortgagee joined the association as a defendant in the foreclosure action. Joinder of the association is not required if, on the date the complaint is filed, the association was dissolved or did not maintain an office or agent for service of process at a location which was known to or reasonably discoverable by the mortgagee.
(c) The person acquiring title shall pay the amount owed to the association within 30 days after transfer of title. Failure to pay the full amount when due shall entitle the association to record a claim of lien against the parcel and proceed in the same manner as provided in this section for the collection of unpaid assessments.
(d) With respect to each timeshare unit, each owner of a timeshare estate therein is jointly and severally liable for the payment of all assessments and other charges levied against or with respect to that unit pursuant to the declaration or bylaws, except to the extent that the declaration or bylaws may provide to the contrary.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b), a first mortgagee or its successor or assignees who acquire title to a condominium unit as a result of the foreclosure of the mortgage or by deed in lieu of foreclosure of the mortgage shall be exempt from liability for all unpaid assessments attributable to the parcel or chargeable to the previous owner which came due prior to acquisition of title if the first mortgage was recorded prior to April 1, 1992. If, however, the first mortgage was recorded on or after April 1, 1992, or on the date the mortgage was recorded, the declaration included language incorporating by reference future amendments to this chapter, the provisions of paragraph (b) shall apply.
(f) The provisions of this subsection are intended to clarify existing law, and shall not be available in any case where the unpaid assessments sought to be recovered by the association are secured by a lien recorded prior to the recording of the mortgage. Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 48, the association shall be a proper party to intervene in any foreclosure proceeding to seek equitable relief.
(g) For purposes of this subsection, the term "successor or assignee" as used with respect to a first mortgagee includes only a subsequent holder of the first mortgage.
(2) The liability for assessments may not be avoided by waiver of the use or enjoyment of any common element or by abandonment of the unit for which the assessments are made.
(3) Assessments and installments on them which are not paid when due bear interest at the rate provided in the declaration, from the due date until paid. This rate may not exceed the rate allowed by law, and, if no rate is provided in the declaration, interest shall accrue at the rate of 18 percent per year. Also, if the declaration or bylaws so provide, the association may charge an administrative late fee in addition to such interest, in an amount not to exceed the greater of $25 or 5 percent of each installment of the assessment for each delinquent installment that the payment is late. Any payment received by an association shall be applied first to any interest accrued by the association, then to any administrative late fee, then to any costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in collection, and then to the delinquent assessment. The foregoing shall be applicable notwithstanding any restrictive endorsement, designation, or instruction placed on or accompanying a payment. A late fee shall not be subject to the provisions in chapter 687 or s. 718.303(3).
(4) If the association is authorized by the declaration or bylaws to approve or disapprove a proposed lease of a unit, the grounds for disapproval may include, but are not limited to, a unit owner being delinquent in the payment of an assessment at the time approval is sought.
(5)(a) The association has a lien on each condominium parcel to secure the payment of assessments. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (1) and as set forth below, the lien is effective from and shall relate back to the recording of the original declaration of condominium, or, in the case of lien on a parcel located in a phase condominium, the last to occur of the recording of the original declaration or amendment thereto creating the parcel. However, as to first mortgages of record, the lien is effective from and after recording of a claim of lien in the public records of the county in which the condominium parcel is located. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to bestow upon any lien, mortgage, or certified judgment of record on April 1, 1992, including the lien for unpaid assessments created herein, a priority which, by law, the lien, mortgage, or judgment did not have before that date.
(b) To be valid, a claim of lien must state the description of the condominium parcel, the name of the record owner, the name and address of the association, the amount due, and the due dates. It must be executed and acknowledged by an officer or authorized agent of the association. No such lien shall be effective longer than 1 year after the claim of lien was recorded unless, within that time, an action to enforce the lien is commenced. The 1-year period shall automatically be extended for any length of time during which the association is prevented from filing a foreclosure action by an automatic stay resulting from a bankruptcy petition filed by the parcel owner or any other person claiming an interest in the parcel. The claim of lien shall secure all unpaid assessments which are due and which may accrue subsequent to the recording of the claim of lien and prior to the entry of a certificate of title, as well as interest and all reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred by the association incident to the collection process. Upon payment in full, the person making the payment is entitled to a satisfaction of the lien.
(c) By recording a notice in substantially the following form, a unit owner or the unit owner's agent or attorney may require the association to enforce a recorded claim of lien against his or her condominium parcel:
NOTICE OF CONTEST OF LIEN
TO: (Name and address of association) You are notified that the undersigned contests the claim of lien filed by you on _____, (year) , and recorded in Official Records Book _____ at Page _____, of the public records of _____ County, Florida, and that the time within which you may file suit to enforce your lien is limited to 90 days from the date of service of this notice. Executed this _____ day of _____, (year) .
Signed: (Owner or Attorney)
After notice of contest of lien has been recorded, the clerk of the circuit court shall mail a copy of the recorded notice to the association by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address shown in the claim of lien or most recent amendment to it and shall certify to the service on the face of the notice. Service is complete upon mailing. After service, the association has 90 days in which to file an action to enforce the lien; and, if the action is not filed within the 90-day period, the lien is void. However, the 90-day period shall be extended for any length of time that the association is prevented from filing its action because of an automatic stay resulting from the filing of a bankruptcy petition by the unit owner or by any other person claiming an interest in the parcel.
(6)(a) The association may bring an action in its name to foreclose a lien for assessments in the manner a mortgage of real property is foreclosed and may also bring an action to recover a money judgment for the unpaid assessments without waiving any claim of lien. The association is entitled to recover its reasonable attorney's fees incurred in either a lien foreclosure action or an action to recover a money judgment for unpaid assessments.
(b) No foreclosure judgment may be entered until at least 30 days after the association gives written notice to the unit owner of its intention to foreclose its lien to collect the unpaid assessments. If this notice is not given at least 30 days before the foreclosure action is filed, and if the unpaid assessments, including those coming due after the claim of lien is recorded, are paid before the entry of a final judgment of foreclosure, the association shall not recover attorney's fees or costs. The notice must be given by delivery of a copy of it to the unit owner or by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the unit owner at his or her last known address; and, upon such mailing, the notice shall be deemed to have been given, and the court shall proceed with the foreclosure action and may award attorney's fees and costs as permitted by law. The notice requirements of this subsection are satisfied if the unit owner records a notice of contest of lien as provided in subsection (5). The notice requirements of this subsection do not apply if an action to foreclose a mortgage on the condominium unit is pending before any court; if the rights of the association would be affected by such foreclosure; and if actual, constructive, or substitute service of process has been made on the unit owner.
(c) If the unit owner remains in possession of the unit after a foreclosure judgment has been entered, the court, in its discretion, may require the unit owner to pay a reasonable rental for the unit. If the unit is rented or leased during the pendency of the foreclosure action, the association is entitled to the appointment of a receiver to collect the rent. The expenses of the receiver shall be paid by the party which does not prevail in the foreclosure action.
(d) The association has the power to purchase the condominium parcel at the foreclosure sale and to hold, lease, mortgage, or convey it.
(7) A first mortgagee acquiring title to a condominium parcel as a result of foreclosure, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure, may not, during the period of its ownership of such parcel, whether or not such parcel is unoccupied, be excused from the payment of some or all of the common expenses coming due during the period of such ownership.
(8) Within 15 days after receiving a written request therefor from a unit owner purchaser, or mortgagee, the association shall provide a certificate signed by an officer or agent of the association stating all assessments and other moneys owed to the association by the unit owner with respect to the condominium parcel. Any person other than the owner who relies upon such certificate shall be protected thereby. A summary proceeding pursuant to s. 51.011 may be brought to compel compliance with this subsection, and in any such action the prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees. Notwithstanding any limitation on transfer fees contained in s. 718.112(2)(i), the association or its authorized agent may charge a reasonable fee for the preparation of the certificate.
(9)(a) A unit owner may not be excused from payment of the unit owner's share of common expenses unless all other unit owners are likewise proportionately excluded from payment, except as provided in subsection (1) and in the following cases:
1. If authorized by the declaration, a developer who is offering units for sale may elect to be excused from payment of assessments against those unsold units for a stated period of time after the declaration is recorded. However, the developer must pay common expenses incurred during such period which exceed regular periodic assessments against other unit owners in the same condominium. The stated period must terminate no later than the first day of the fourth calendar month following the month in which the first closing occurs of a purchase contract for a unit in that condominium. If a developer-controlled association has maintained all insurance coverage required by s. 718.111(11)(a), common expenses incurred during the stated period resulting from a natural disaster or an act of God occurring during the stated period, which are not covered by proceeds from insurance maintained by the association, may be assessed against all unit owners owning units on the date of such natural disaster or act of God, and their respective successors and assigns, including the developer with respect to units owned by the developer. In the event of such an assessment, all units shall be assessed in accordance with s. 718.115(2).
2. A developer who owns condominium units, and who is offering the units for sale, may be excused from payment of assessments against those unsold units for the period of time the developer has guaranteed to all purchasers or other unit owners in the same condominium that assessments will not exceed a stated dollar amount and that the developer will pay any common expenses that exceed the guaranteed amount. Such guarantee may be stated in the purchase contract, declaration, prospectus, or written agreement between the developer and a majority of the unit owners other than the developer and may provide that, after the initial guarantee period, the developer may extend the guarantee for one or more stated periods. If a developer-controlled association has maintained all insurance coverage required by s. 718.111(11)(a), common expenses incurred during a guarantee period, as a result of a natural disaster or an act of God occurring during the same guarantee period, which are not covered by the proceeds from such insurance, may be assessed against all unit owners owning units on the date of such natural disaster or act of God, and their successors and assigns, including the developer with respect to units owned by the developer. Any such assessment shall be in accordance with s. 718.115(2) or (4), as applicable.
(b) If the purchase contract, declaration, prospectus, or written agreement between the developer and a majority of unit owners other than the developer provides for the developer to be excused from payment of assessments under paragraph (a), only regular periodic assessments for common expenses as provided for in the declaration and prospectus and disclosed in the estimated operating budget shall be used for payment of common expenses during any period in which the developer is excused. Accordingly, no funds which are receivable from unit purchasers or unit owners and payable to the association, including capital contributions or startup funds collected from unit purchasers at closing, may be used for payment of such common expenses.
(c) If a developer of a multicondominium is excused from payment of assessments under paragraph (a), the developer's financial obligation to the multicondominium association during any period in which the developer is excused from payment of assessments is as follows:
1. The developer shall pay the common expenses of a condominium affected by a guarantee, including the funding of reserves as provided in the adopted annual budget of that condominium, which exceed the regular periodic assessments at the guaranteed level against all other unit owners within that condominium.
2. The developer shall pay the common expenses of a multicondominium association, including the funding of reserves as provided in the adopted annual budget of the association, which are allocated to units within a condominium affected by a guarantee and which exceed the regular periodic assessments against all other unit owners within that condominium.
(10) The specific purpose or purposes of any special assessment approved in accordance with the condominium documents shall be set forth in a written notice of such assessment sent or delivered to each unit owner. The funds collected pursuant to a special assessment shall be used only for the specific purpose or purposes set forth in such notice. However, upon completion of such specific purpose or purposes, any excess funds will be considered common surplus, and may, at the discretion of the board, either be returned to the unit owners or applied as a credit toward future assessments.
History.--s. 1, ch. 76-222; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 9, ch. 77-221; s. 7, ch. 77-222; s. 6, ch. 78-328; s. 8, ch. 84-368; s. 12, ch. 90-151; s. 9, ch. 91-103; ss. 4, 5, ch. 91-426; s. 6, ch. 92-49; s. 10, ch. 94-350; s. 87, ch. 95-211; s. 856, ch. 97-102; s. 7, ch. 98-322; s. 33, ch. 99-6; s. 1, ch. 2000-201; s. 56, ch. 2000-302; s. 7, ch. 2003-14.