HOA Special Assessments, Fines, Foreclosures, and You

Mid January of this year, a survey being conducted by the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest is wrapping up. The Coalition is a consumer advocate group formed last year to prevent HOA abuse. Early survey findings show that the vast majority of homeowners are not satisfied with their HOA due to a lack of transparency.

Some of the issues homeowners are having with their homeowners associations are:

  • 67% of homeowners surveyed were not aware before closing on their home that the association had the legal right to foreclose on their home if they became delinquent on assessments, fees, or dues.
  • 58% of homeowners surveyed were not aware when they bought their home that their HOA had the ability to fine them.

What is an HOA anyway?

In return for monthly or annual HOA fees from homeowners, a Homeowners Association, or HOA, is committed to the upkeep of common areas and buildings. The more upscale the neighborhood and the more amenities it has, the higher the homeowners’ association fees are likely to be. In addition to association dues, if a major expense such as the construction of a new roof on a community club house or a new elevator in a condo building comes up and there aren’t enough funds in the HOA’s reserves to pay for it, the association may charge an extra assessment that can run into thousands of dollars.

HOAs also set community rules, called covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that all residents must follow. Homeowners, whose property or their own actions are found in violation of these rules, can be fined. In some cases, should HOA dues, fines from CC&R violations, or special assessments be made and not paid by the homeowner, the HOA can foreclose on your property.

What to Know About HOAs When Purchasing Property

If you’re considering purchasing a home that is part of a HOA, it is suggested to:

  • Research the HOA fees, its covenants and how the HOA operates.
  • Conduct a search for unrecorded liens to ensure the property is clear of special assessments, code enforcement violations and municipal liens.
  • Make sure the home you want to buy is in compliance with HOA rules.
  • Pull an HOA estoppel to uncover any HOA costs due.

Should you to purchase the home before the previous owner clears up the fines or violations, they would become your responsibility. Buying into an existing problem can be a headache, the prudent thing to do is to do your due diligence before you take ownership of any property.

About Florida Municipal Lien Search (FMLS)

Florida Municipal Lien Search, LLC is a privately owned and operated company providing title agents, attorneys, and realtors with unrecorded and municipal lien searches for all of the cities and counties in the State of Florida. Florida Municipal Lien Search conducts searches for municipal and county liens, unrecorded utility services, code enforcement violations, code enforcement liens, property taxes and special assessments. Founded on the principals of honesty and integrity, FMLS strives to make each and every client a long term, ongoing relationship. For more information, visit https://floridamunicipalliensearch.com or call 321-325-6255.