I paid the HOA fee for the quarter, plus the next quarter, but did not include his fee (which was more than my HOA fee for the quarter. Now, after 3 months, I get a letter stating I still owe his attorney fee and interest and must pay by Aug. 24th or a suite will be filed. My home is a second home and being short-saled and an offer is already been made to purchase it. I have kept up the HOA fees each quarter and this is the only time I had received a letter from an attorney representing the HOA. Do I still owe this attorney's fees? I am up to date with HOA - in fact the next payment is not due until October. I am retired with limited income at this time.
Estate Planning Attorney
You don't say how many weeks past due your HOA fees were when you received the first letter. Whether or not the HOA can charge you attorney fees should be explained within your Condo Docs - how late fees are handled. Most probably, since the HOA had to have their attorney send you a notice of the lateness of the HOA fees, you will have to reimburse the attorney or HOA for his fees. That you are now up to date on paying the HOA dues is, unfortunately, not the issue. Have you tried calling the attorney and negotiating the fees? You should first read your Condo Docs and if you think the attorney fees are being incorrectly billed to you, call the Condo Association for help. Then, hire a lawyer or find a community law program that can intercede on your behalf.
Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact an attorney for legal advice concerning your matter.
Residential Real Estate Lawyer
As Ms. Johnson said, the association's documents determine when the dues are late, but in most cases it's ten days. Some HOAs allow 30 days.
By state law, once you are late all payments are applied to the attorney fees first, the collection costs, then late fees and interest, with assessments being paid last. This means that if you did not pay the full amount demanded you will always be late.
The association is required to send you a 45-day intent to lien letter, then a 45-day intent to foreclose letter before they can file suit. It's 30 days for each for condos.
It sounds like their attorney is not familiar with these laws. The letters must also contain a disclaimer pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act notifying you of your rights to dispute the charges, however, a dispute will lead to more attorney fees. By law the association is entitled to attorney fees even if no litigation is filed.
This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is always recommended you consult an attorney in person to discuss your case. The Law Offices of Stage & Associates practices state-wide and represents homeowners and community associations. Please visit our website at www.stagelaw.com.