What are Condominium Special Assessments?

When buying real estate, such as a condominium, it’s important to know how special assessments can affect you at the time of purchase, and during the time you own the property. As a title agent, or real estate agent, this is important as well so that you can help protect your clients from a financial downfall.

First, let’s get a birds eye prospective of special assessments, how they come into play and what you need to know.

Special assessments can usually be avoided if the association does proper planning in the beginning states of budgetary planning. However, even with precautions being taken, they can still come up from time to time so it is best to know as much as possible about what they are and how to deal with them.

A chain of events takes place in order for a special assessment to be levied on a condo. The first event is an unexpected cost coming up in the lifecycle of the condominium. These costs were not in the original budget and usually come about due to unforeseen circumstances. If there is no room in the operating budget to handle these expenses or a funded reserve account to defray the cost, then this is when the special assessment comes into play.

Once it is decided that a special assessment is to be levied there must be precautions so that the process is done correctly the first time. If not, it can cause unnecessary legal ramifications and expenses.

Some of the general guidelines associations follow before considering special assessments are:

  1. Notice of a proposed special assessment meeting must be sent to all owners not less than 14 days prior to the meeting.
  2. Notice must also be posted in a conspicuous place on the condominium property not less than 14 days prior to the meeting.
  3. The notice must explain what the special assessment will be used for and the amount of the expected special assessment.
  4. The person who mailed or delivered the notice to the owners must execute an affidavit that attests to the fact that the notices were mailed or delivered to all owners including the date which they were sent.

When levying special assessments it is important to know whether the board of directors has the sole authority to levy the assessments or whether the membership has to approve the special assessments. Either way the procedure above must be met as well as any other procedures that need to be met; these are usually located within the association’s bylaws but not always. Additionally, an aspect that is frequently overlooked despite being vital to the process is making sure that the special assessment purpose is a proper common expense. These expenses are defined in Section 718.115 of the Florida Statutes but can also commonly be found within the association’s governing documents.

Buying a Condo? Search for Special Assessments

Now that you understand how a condominium association can levy a special assessment on a property owner, do you know if the condo you or your client is buying has any outstanding special assessments? Please feel free to contact Florida Municipal Lien Search to learn how you can have an unrecorded and municipal lien search to find out if there are special assessments, property taxes or other unrecorded fees due, before the contract comes to close. 

About Florida Municipal Lien Search (FLMS)

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.