As of July 1, 2021, Florida condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations will be required to send notice of past due assessments before they can collect attorneys’ fees from the delinquent owner. Currently, the applicable statutes require the association to provide notice before a claim of lien securing payment of past due assessments is filed (the Intent to Lien letter) and an additional notice before the association forecloses on its assessment lien (the Intent to Foreclose letter). Senate Bill 56 (SB 56), signed into law by the Governor on June 16, 2021, adds one more layer of notice in the assessment process.
Before the Intent to Lien or Intent to Foreclose letter can be sent, the association must first deliver written notice specifying the amount owed and providing the owner the ability to pay without paying attorney fees, using the form below:
NOTICE OF LATE ASSESSMENT
RE: Unit …. of … (name of association) …
The following amounts are currently due on your account to … (name of association) … and must be paid within 30 days of the date of this letter. This letter shall serve as the association’s notice of its intent to proceed with further collection action against your property no sooner than 30 days of the date of this letter, unless you pay in full the amounts set forth below:
|Maintenance due … (dates) …
|Late fee, if applicable
|Interest through … (dates) … *
*Interest accrues at the rate of …. percent per annum.
This language is particular to condominium associations. The language relative to cooperatives and homeowners’ associations varies slightly. Please see Chapter 2021-91, Laws of Florida, for the exact wording to use in those letters. The Notice of Late Assessment must be sent via first-class mail to the owner’s last address and, if not the unit/parcel address, to the unit/parcel address via first-class mail as well. A rebuttable presumption that a Notice of Late Assessment was sent can be created if a board member, officer, agent, or manager provides a sworn affidavit attesting to such mailing.
In addition to the requirement to send a Notice of Late Assessment, SB 56 also increases the time between when the association sends the Intent to Lien letter and when it can record a claim of lien from 30 to 45 days for condominium and cooperative associations. The time between when a condominium association sends the Intent to Foreclosure letter and when it can begin the foreclosure process has also been increased from 30 to 45 days.
SB 56 also requires the following:
- Assessment invoices must be sent via first-class mail or to the email address maintained in the association’s official records.
- Owners must be notified of a change in the method of delivery of assessment invoices, via first-class mail to the owner’s last address and, if not the unit/parcel address, to the unit/parcel address as well, at least 30 days before assessment invoices are sent by the new delivery method.
- Owners must affirmatively acknowledge the change, in writing or electronically, before the association can change the method of delivery. This affirmative acknowledgment must be kept as part of the official records, but these records are not available for owner inspection.
Condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations should review their delinquent assessment processes carefully to be sure they are in compliance with these statutory changes.