Florida Statutes, Chapter 718.116 Assessments; liability; lien and priority; interest; collection.—
This statute is from Chapter 718 dealing with Condo Assocations. We don't know if you bought a condo or a house. But whether a house or a condo, if these assesment/liens are not covered by the statute, it is probably covered by a declaration that was written by the developer's attorney way back when. These declarations go with the land and if you die 80 years from now and your grandson inherits it, he will be liable.
Basically, from what information I have from your question (so this answer is not guranteed) you are defnitely liable for future assessment/dues/fees from the HOA. I'm sure of that becasue you are now the owner. As far as past dues and fees, probably you, the bank, the hoa, AND the previous owner are ALL liable. Whoever owned the property, was supposed to pay the assessment/fees/dues. So your big issue it seems is that maybe they want you to pay ALL OF IT because the bank and hoa and previous owner did not pay for PAST dues. It could have been deliberate, it could have been accidental. The statute says joint and several liability for condo associations, which means EVERYONE is liable for the full amount. That does not mean if $5,000 is owed, then everyone pays $5,000 each, for a total of $20,000 rather it means the HOA can collect $5,000 from one person or $2,500 from 2 people or $1,250 from 4 people. But if you are paying the whole $5,000 then you have a cause of action and can sue the other people (bank, hoa, previous owner) who is liable. In the meantime, you have to pay current dues. You can choose not to pay past dues if you want, but the HOA attorneys will send you notices and sue you. You could pay the past assessments and sue to get them back. You can wait and defend or counter-sue IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE NOT LIABLE FOR THE FULL AMOUNT OR THER IS SOME OTHER DEFENSE that I'm not going to get into typing for the next 3 hours. HOA's can be very nasty and there are very few defenses if an HOA or Condo Association sues a unit owner. There are defenses, but not nearly as many as when a bank sues for foreclosure. This is a scenario I created based on what you wrote, so don't hold me to it. If you hired an attorney before you bought, they did not inform you. If you did not hire an attorney, you are learning.:-) Call if you like. If I am away from the phone. I will get back to you. Great question thank you.