How do I answer a summons: Personal Service on an Individual?

Asked almost 3 years ago - Saint Petersburg, FL

I am a tenant of a condo. Just moved in May 2011. Shortly after moving in, I was approached by a service processor looking for the owner. Apparenlty, they have not been paying the HOA's. Then the President of the HOA approached me. I had no answers for them as I knew nothing about this! I am a single mother. I make hourly wages and live pay check to pay check. I can't hire an atty or afford to move again! The summons says a lawsuit has been filed against me and I am to respond. The HOA has filed a complaint for a lien forclosure on the condo. How to I respond?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Barry A. Stein

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . You need to consult an attorney about your legal responsibilities. Not consulting one with your lease agreement in hand, may end up costing you more money.

    The answers given are limited to the facts as given and presumed by the answer itself. Without seeing actual... more
  2. Michael Scott Bloom

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . WIthout reviewing the complaint, I can give you some general considerations (and hopefully some hope). It is possible that the HOA has named you as a defendant for the purpose of foreclosing the unit but not for the purpose of having you, personally, pay all of the past due maintenance. You may want to contact the HOA attorney and inquire into the possibility of renting the unit from the HOA and making your rent payments directly to them (which, upon their following appropriate procedures, if permitted under Florida law). The rent payments would be applied to the HOA dues which are not being paid for by the unit owner. If the HOA forecloses and becomes the owner, they may still agree to rent to you in the future (until such time as a bank later forecloses - which is likely to occur if it is financed). As for the mechanics of answering a foreclosure, you need to respond to each paragraph by indicating that you either "admit" the allegation, "deny" the allegation, or "are without knowledge" as to the allegation. This is a very simplistic and general approach to information and would encourage you to seek the services of legal aid as stated above. I wish you the best of luck and would be happy to clarify any of this informatino if you need.

  3. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Unfortunately, in Florida I believe HOA's can now demand the tenant pay the HOA fees when the owner does not meet his/her obligations.

    You may be able to file an interpleader action--however you will need the services of a Florida attorney. BUT, hang in there single mom! You don't have to have money to have a lawyer represent you in Florida. There are other organizations staffed with lawyers who volunteer to assist individuals in situations like yours (see below):

    Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. -St. Petersburg, (727) 490-4040, www.bals.org

    Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. - Tampa, (813) 232-1343, www.bals.org

    Community Law Program - St. Petersburg, (727) 582-7402, www.lawprogram.org

    Florida Institutional Legal Services, Inc. - Gainesville, (352) 375-2494, fils@bellsouth.net

    Florida Justice Institute - Miami, (305) 358-2081

    Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. - Clearwater, (727) 443-0657, www.gulfcoastlegal.org

    Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. - St. Petersburg, (727) 821-0726, www.gulfcoastlegal.org

    http://www.lawprogram.org/ or direct to the Law Program housing group at (727) 582-7480.

    You can also use the avvo.com search option to find a local FL landlord tenant attorney, many offer 20 ore 30 minute free consultations, and several landlord tenant attorneys in your area are nationally recognized. Best of Luck.

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