The latest edition of the firm’s Miami Herald real estate column appears in today’s newspaper and was authored by Maryvel De Castro Valdes. The article, which is titled “Real Estate Counselor: Unpaid Dues at HOAs Call for Uniform Collections Policies,” focuses on the increased arrears that some South Florida communities are now starting to see as a result of rising insurance costs and inflationary economic pressures. Maryvel notes that boards of directors and property managers would be well advised to review and examine their collections policies to ensure that owners are properly reminded of their maintenance payment obligations. Her article reads:
. . . Boards of directors should look to Florida law and their community’s governing documents to determine if certain actions must be taken before a lien is recorded or a foreclosure action is initiated. Based on these reviews, a standardized written collections policy should be created to outline the steps and timing of notices to delinquent owners. The policy is also helpful to avoid the potential for claims of favoritism or selective enforcement.
When creating a collections policy, there is certain information that should be included. For example, owners should know the due date and to whom the payment must be delivered, the date that late charges will be imposed, the delinquent interest rate, and when a delinquent account will be turned over to a collection agency or attorney for handling. Associations should look to their declaration of covenants or bylaws to confirm if a late charge may be imposed, as Florida law only allows late charges if they are provided for in the governing documents.
The collection of a past-due account most often begins with an official written notice mailed to the delinquent owner. Both the Condominium Act and the Homeowners’ Association Act provide a mechanism for notifying owners of delinquencies known as the “Notice of Late Assessment,” which gives owners 30 days to make payment.