In 2010, at the height of the recent foreclosure crisis, community associations in Florida gained an effective tool to aid them in their efforts to collect upon delinquent assessments. It was at that time that the legislature amended Florida law to authorize community associations to suspend the rights of unit owners and their tenants to use portions of the community’s common elements and amenities if the owner became delinquent by more than 90 days in their obligation to pay association monetary obligations, including assessments. Currently, the law also extends the association’s right to suspend such use rights in the event that the owner or their tenants should fail to comply with the association’s governing documents or rules.
Prior to then, associations had few practical remedies at their disposal to address violations of rules. For instance, associations had the options of filing costly and lengthy lawsuits or arbitration actions, or imposing nominal fines. As for collection of delinquent assessments, associations’ options were limited to placing liens on the homes or units owned by delinquent owners – a remedy with limited effectiveness during the foreclosure crisis due to the statutory safe harbor protections benefiting lenders in Florida.
However, since its implementation, some associations have found that suspending owner and tenants’ rights to use common elements or facilities may be an effective measure for contending with delinquencies as well as violations of rules and other restrictions.