The firm’s latest Miami Herald column was authored by Awilda Esteras and appears in today’s edition of the newspaper. The article, which is titled “Real Estate Counselor: Technicality Gives Homeowner a Reprieve in HOA Foreclosure Action,” focuses on the ramifications of a technical shortcoming in an HOA foreclosure action that were illustrated in a recent decision by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal. The appellate panel found in favor of the homeowner and reversed the lower court’s foreclosure judgment due to the failure of the association and its board of directors to properly levy an individual assessment against the owner. Awilda’s article reads:
. . . The case stems from a 2019 mortgage foreclosure action filed against homeowner Tammy Desch by Deutsche Bank. The South Fork of Hillsborough County II Homeowner’s Association incurred $475 in legal fees for the filing of a required response in the matter by its attorneys, and it then sought recovery from the homeowner as an individual assessment for these costs pursuant to its own governing documents.
The debt subsequently went unpaid by Desch, and in less than one year the balance due on the account grew to nearly $1,700. In order to collect, the HOA filed a lawsuit in 2020 to foreclose its claim of lien for the unpaid assessment as prescribed under Florida law and its own governing documents. It alleged it “ha[d] made assessments against the Property” and Desch had failed to pay, and it attached a copy of its account ledger showing the initial entry for $475 plus the subsequent fees and interest.
The homeowner responded by contending the HOA had failed to identify the origin and basis of any assessment officially levied against her property in accordance with the procedural requirements of Florida law as well as its own governing documents.