Foreclosures for Associations: The Florida Condominium Act and Safe Harbor Rule

Foreclosure is an unfortunate reality that many Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations must face in their communities. Accordingly, it is important for Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations to be aware of the rules governing foreclosures, what happens following foreclosures, and what the rights and responsibilities of the Association are in the case of foreclosure.

The Florida Condominium Act

The foreclosure of a property by a lienholder will typically extinguish liens that came after it, known as junior liens. This would be a potential nightmare scenario for Associations who are owed unpaid assessments, as unit owners who fail to pay assessments usually fail to pay other lienholders. Fortunately for Associations however, under Florida law, there is an exception where it concerns unpaid assessments owed to Associations. The Florida Condominium Act allows Associations to collect unpaid assessments of previous owners from new unit owners, regardless of how they acquire title. This assures that the Association will not lose out on unpaid assessments, even if a previous unit owner loses their home through foreclosure.

Safe Harbor Rule – 718.116

As with most laws, there are exceptions. The major exception to this right is when a first mortgagee acquires title through foreclosure. Known as the “Safe Harbor” rule, first mortgagees who acquire title through foreclosure are exempted from paying the full amount of unpaid assessments owed by the previous owner. This often results in the first mortgagee being responsible for far less than what was previously owed to the Association. Understanding exceptions such as these are an integral part of governing and maintaining Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations. For this reason, it is important that the Condominium or Homeowners’ Association have the benefit of competent, knowledgeable attorneys who can help navigate the Association through the foreclosure process.

At Mejia Shehadeh Giannamore, PLLC, we have the experience to handle the issues with the business interests of the Condominium Association in mind. Feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss how Mejia Shehadeh Giannamore, PLLC can help your Florida Condominium Association with its legal needs. You can email us at contact@sglawfl.com or reach us by telephone at (305) 507-9843.

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