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2011 Florida Statutes

SECTION 116
Assessments liability lien and priority interest collection.
F.S. 718.116
718.116 Assessments; liability; lien and priority; interest; collection.
(1)(a) A unit owner, regardless of how his or her title has been acquired, including by purchase at a foreclosure sale or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, is liable for all assessments which come due while he or she is the unit owner. Additionally, a unit owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title. This liability is without prejudice to any right the owner may have to recover from the previous owner the amounts paid by the owner.
(b)1. The liability of a first mortgagee or its successor or assignees who acquire title to a unit by foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure for the unpaid assessments that became due before the mortgagee’s acquisition of title is limited to the lesser of:
a. The unit’s unpaid common expenses and regular periodic assessments which accrued or came due during the 12 months immediately preceding the acquisition of title and for which payment in full has not been received by the association; or
b. One percent of the original mortgage debt. The provisions of this paragraph apply only if the first mortgagee joined the association as a defendant in the foreclosure action. Joinder of the association is not required if, on the date the complaint is filed, the association was dissolved or did not maintain an office or agent for service of process at a location which was known to or reasonably discoverable by the mortgagee.
2. An association, or its successor or assignee, that acquires title to a unit through the foreclosure of its lien for assessments is not liable for any unpaid assessments, late fees, interest, or reasonable attorney’s fees and costs that came due before the association’s acquisition of title in favor of any other association, as defined in s. 718.103(2) or s. 720.301(9), which holds a superior lien interest on the unit. This subparagraph is intended to clarify existing law.
(c) The person acquiring title shall pay the amount owed to the association within 30 days after transfer of title. Failure to pay the full amount when due shall entitle the association to record a claim of lien against the parcel and proceed in the same manner as provided in this section for the collection of unpaid assessments.
(d) With respect to each timeshare unit, each owner of a timeshare estate therein is jointly and severally liable for the payment of all assessments and other charges levied against or with respect to that unit pursuant to the declaration or bylaws, except to the extent that the declaration or bylaws may provide to the contrary.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b), a first mortgagee or its successor or assignees who acquire title to a condominium unit as a result of the foreclosure of the mortgage or by deed in lieu of foreclosure of the mortgage shall be exempt from liability for all unpaid assessments attributable to the parcel or chargeable to the previous owner which came due prior to acquisition of title if the first mortgage was recorded prior to April 1, 1992. If, however, the first mortgage was recorded on or after April 1, 1992, or on the date the mortgage was recorded, the declaration included language incorporating by reference future amendments to this chapter, the provisions of paragraph (b) shall apply.
(f) The provisions of this subsection are intended to clarify existing law, and shall not be available in any case where the unpaid assessments sought to be recovered by the association are secured by a lien recorded prior to the recording of the mortgage. Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 48, the association shall be a proper party to intervene in any foreclosure proceeding to seek equitable relief.
(g) For purposes of this subsection, the term “successor or assignee” as used with respect to a first mortgagee includes only a subsequent holder of the first mortgage.
(2) The liability for assessments may not be avoided by waiver of the use or enjoyment of any common element or by abandonment of the unit for which the assessments are made.
(3) Assessments and installments on assessments which are not paid when due bear interest at the rate provided in the declaration, from the due date until paid. The rate may not exceed the rate allowed by law, and, if no rate is provided in the declaration, interest accrues at the rate of 18 percent per year. If provided by the declaration or bylaws, the association may, in addition to such interest, charge an administrative late fee of up to the greater of $25 or 5 percent of each delinquent installment for which the payment is late. Any payment received by an association must be applied first to any interest accrued by the association, then to any administrative late fee, then to any costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in collection, and then to the delinquent assessment. The foregoing is applicable notwithstanding any restrictive endorsement, designation, or instruction placed on or accompanying a payment. A late fee is not subject to chapter 687 or s. 718.303(4).
(4) If the association is authorized by the declaration or bylaws to approve or disapprove a proposed lease of a unit, the grounds for disapproval may include, but are not limited to, a unit owner being delinquent in the payment of an assessment at the time approval is sought.
(5)(a) The association has a lien on each condominium parcel to secure the payment of assessments. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (1) and as set forth below, the lien is effective from and shall relate back to the recording of the original declaration of condominium, or, in the case of lien on a parcel located in a phase condominium, the last to occur of the recording of the original declaration or amendment thereto creating the parcel. However, as to first mortgages of record, the lien is effective from and after recording of a claim of lien in the public records of the county in which the condominium parcel is located. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to bestow upon any lien, mortgage, or certified judgment of record on April 1, 1992, including the lien for unpaid assessments created herein, a priority which, by law, the lien, mortgage, or judgment did not have before that date.
(b) To be valid, a claim of lien must state the description of the condominium parcel, the name of the record owner, the name and address of the association, the amount due, and the due dates. It must be executed and acknowledged by an officer or authorized agent of the association. The lien is not effective 1 year after the claim of lien was recorded unless, within that time, an action to enforce the lien is commenced. The 1-year period is automatically extended for any length of time during which the association is prevented from filing a foreclosure action by an automatic stay resulting from a bankruptcy petition filed by the parcel owner or any other person claiming an interest in the parcel. The claim of lien secures all unpaid assessments that are due and that may accrue after the claim of lien is recorded and through the entry of a final judgment, as well as interest and all reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the association incident to the collection process. Upon payment in full, the person making the payment is entitled to a satisfaction of the lien.
(c) By recording a notice in substantially the following form, a unit owner or the unit owner’s agent or attorney may require the association to enforce a recorded claim of lien against his or her condominium parcel:

NOTICE OF CONTEST OF LIEN

TO:   (Name and address of association)   You are notified that the undersigned contests the claim of lien filed by you on  ,   (year)  , and recorded in Official Records Book   at Page  , of the public records of   County, Florida, and that the time within which you may file suit to enforce your lien is limited to 90 days from the date of service of this notice. Executed this   day of  ,   (year)  .

Signed:   (Owner or Attorney)  

After notice of contest of lien has been recorded, the clerk of the circuit court shall mail a copy of the recorded notice to the association by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address shown in the claim of lien or most recent amendment to it and shall certify to the service on the face of the notice. Service is complete upon mailing. After service, the association has 90 days in which to file an action to enforce the lien; and, if the action is not filed within the 90-day period, the lien is void. However, the 90-day period shall be extended for any length of time during which the association is prevented from filing its action because of an automatic stay resulting from the filing of a bankruptcy petition by the unit owner or by any other person claiming an interest in the parcel.

(6)(a) The association may bring an action in its name to foreclose a lien for assessments in the manner a mortgage of real property is foreclosed and may also bring an action to recover a money judgment for the unpaid assessments without waiving any claim of lien. The association is entitled to recover its reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in either a lien foreclosure action or an action to recover a money judgment for unpaid assessments.
(b) No foreclosure judgment may be entered until at least 30 days after the association gives written notice to the unit owner of its intention to foreclose its lien to collect the unpaid assessments. If this notice is not given at least 30 days before the foreclosure action is filed, and if the unpaid assessments, including those coming due after the claim of lien is recorded, are paid before the entry of a final judgment of foreclosure, the association shall not recover attorney’s fees or costs. The notice must be given by delivery of a copy of it to the unit owner or by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the unit owner at his or her last known address; and, upon such mailing, the notice shall be deemed to have been given, and the court shall proceed with the foreclosure action and may award attorney’s fees and costs as permitted by law. The notice requirements of this subsection are satisfied if the unit owner records a notice of contest of lien as provided in subsection (5). The notice requirements of this subsection do not apply if an action to foreclose a mortgage on the condominium unit is pending before any court; if the rights of the association would be affected by such foreclosure; and if actual, constructive, or substitute service of process has been made on the unit owner.
(c) If the unit owner remains in possession of the unit after a foreclosure judgment has been entered, the court, in its discretion, may require the unit owner to pay a reasonable rental for the unit. If the unit is rented or leased during the pendency of the foreclosure action, the association is entitled to the appointment of a receiver to collect the rent. The expenses of the receiver shall be paid by the party which does not prevail in the foreclosure action.
(d) The association has the power to purchase the condominium parcel at the foreclosure sale and to hold, lease, mortgage, or convey it.
(7) A first mortgagee acquiring title to a condominium parcel as a result of foreclosure, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure, may not, during the period of its ownership of such parcel, whether or not such parcel is unoccupied, be excused from the payment of some or all of the common expenses coming due during the period of such ownership.
(8) Within 15 days after receiving a written request therefor from a unit owner or his or her designee, or a unit mortgagee or his or her designee, the association shall provide a certificate signed by an officer or agent of the association stating all assessments and other moneys owed to the association by the unit owner with respect to the condominium parcel.
(a) Any person other than the owner who relies upon such certificate shall be protected thereby.
(b) A summary proceeding pursuant to s. 51.011 may be brought to compel compliance with this subsection, and in any such action the prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
(c) Notwithstanding any limitation on transfer fees contained in s. 718.112(2)(i), the association or its authorized agent may charge a reasonable fee for the preparation of the certificate. The amount of the fee must be included on the certificate.
(d) The authority to charge a fee for the certificate shall be established by a written resolution adopted by the board or provided by a written management, bookkeeping, or maintenance contract and is payable upon the preparation of the certificate. If the certificate is requested in conjunction with the sale or mortgage of a unit but the closing does not occur and no later than 30 days after the closing date for which the certificate was sought the preparer receives a written request, accompanied by reasonable documentation, that the sale did not occur from a payor that is not the unit owner, the fee shall be refunded to that payor within 30 days after receipt of the request. The refund is the obligation of the unit owner, and the association may collect it from that owner in the same manner as an assessment as provided in this section.
(9)(a) A unit owner may not be excused from payment of the unit owner’s share of common expenses unless all other unit owners are likewise proportionately excluded from payment, except as provided in subsection (1) and in the following cases:
1. If authorized by the declaration, a developer who is offering units for sale may elect to be excused from payment of assessments against those unsold units for a stated period of time after the declaration is recorded. However, the developer must pay common expenses incurred during such period which exceed regular periodic assessments against other unit owners in the same condominium. The stated period must terminate no later than the first day of the fourth calendar month following the month in which the first closing occurs of a purchase contract for a unit in that condominium. If a developer-controlled association has maintained all insurance coverage required by s. 718.111(11)(a), common expenses incurred during the stated period resulting from a natural disaster or an act of God occurring during the stated period, which are not covered by proceeds from insurance maintained by the association, may be assessed against all unit owners owning units on the date of such natural disaster or act of God, and their respective successors and assigns, including the developer with respect to units owned by the developer. In the event of such an assessment, all units shall be assessed in accordance with s. 718.115(2).
2. A developer who owns condominium units, and who is offering the units for sale, may be excused from payment of assessments against those unsold units for the period of time the developer has guaranteed to all purchasers or other unit owners in the same condominium that assessments will not exceed a stated dollar amount and that the developer will pay any common expenses that exceed the guaranteed amount. Such guarantee may be stated in the purchase contract, declaration, prospectus, or written agreement between the developer and a majority of the unit owners other than the developer and may provide that, after the initial guarantee period, the developer may extend the guarantee for one or more stated periods. If a developer-controlled association has maintained all insurance coverage required by s. 718.111(11)(a), common expenses incurred during a guarantee period, as a result of a natural disaster or an act of God occurring during the same guarantee period, which are not covered by the proceeds from such insurance, may be assessed against all unit owners owning units on the date of such natural disaster or act of God, and their successors and assigns, including the developer with respect to units owned by the developer. Any such assessment shall be in accordance with s. 718.115(2) or (4), as applicable.
(b) If the purchase contract, declaration, prospectus, or written agreement between the developer and a majority of unit owners other than the developer provides for the developer to be excused from payment of assessments under paragraph (a), only regular periodic assessments for common expenses as provided for in the declaration and prospectus and disclosed in the estimated operating budget shall be used for payment of common expenses during any period in which the developer is excused. Accordingly, no funds which are receivable from unit purchasers or unit owners and payable to the association, including capital contributions or startup funds collected from unit purchasers at closing, may be used for payment of such common expenses.
(c) If a developer of a multicondominium is excused from payment of assessments under paragraph (a), the developer’s financial obligation to the multicondominium association during any period in which the developer is excused from payment of assessments is as follows:
1. The developer shall pay the common expenses of a condominium affected by a guarantee, including the funding of reserves as provided in the adopted annual budget of that condominium, which exceed the regular periodic assessments at the guaranteed level against all other unit owners within that condominium.
2. The developer shall pay the common expenses of a multicondominium association, including the funding of reserves as provided in the adopted annual budget of the association, which are allocated to units within a condominium affected by a guarantee and which exceed the regular periodic assessments against all other unit owners within that condominium.
(10) The specific purpose or purposes of any special assessment, including any contingent special assessment levied in conjunction with the purchase of an insurance policy authorized by s. 718.111(11), approved in accordance with the condominium documents shall be set forth in a written notice of such assessment sent or delivered to each unit owner. The funds collected pursuant to a special assessment shall be used only for the specific purpose or purposes set forth in such notice. However, upon completion of such specific purpose or purposes, any excess funds will be considered common surplus, and may, at the discretion of the board, either be returned to the unit owners or applied as a credit toward future assessments.
(11)(a) If the unit is occupied by a tenant and the unit owner is delinquent in paying any monetary obligation due to the association, the association may make a written demand that the tenant pay to the association the subsequent rental payments and continue to make such payments until all monetary obligations of the unit owner related to the unit have been paid in full to the association. The tenant must pay the monetary obligations to the association until the association releases the tenant or the tenant discontinues tenancy in the unit.
1. The association must provide the tenant a notice, by hand delivery or United States mail, in substantially the following form:

Pursuant to section 718.116(11), Florida Statutes, the association demands that you pay your rent directly to the condominium association and continue doing so until the association notifies you otherwise.

Payment due the condominium association may be in the same form as you paid your landlord and must be sent by United States mail or hand delivery to   (full address)  , payable to   (name)  .

Your obligation to pay your rent to the association begins immediately, unless you have already paid rent to your landlord for the current period before receiving this notice. In that case, you must provide the association written proof of your payment within 14 days after receiving this notice and your obligation to pay rent to the association would then begin with the next rental period.

Pursuant to section 718.116(11), Florida Statutes, your payment of rent to the association gives you complete immunity from any claim for the rent by your landlord for all amounts timely paid to the association.

2. The association must mail written notice to the unit owner of the association’s demand that the tenant make payments to the association.
3. The association shall, upon request, provide the tenant with written receipts for payments made.
4. A tenant is immune from any claim by the landlord or unit owner related to the rent timely paid to the association after the association has made written demand.
(b) If the tenant paid rent to the landlord or unit owner for a given rental period before receiving the demand from the association and provides written evidence to the association of having paid the rent within 14 days after receiving the demand, the tenant shall begin making rental payments to the association for the following rental period and shall continue making rental payments to the association to be credited against the monetary obligations of the unit owner until the association releases the tenant or the tenant discontinues tenancy in the unit.
(c)  The liability of the tenant may not exceed the amount due from the tenant to the tenant’s landlord. The tenant’s landlord shall provide the tenant a credit against rents due to the landlord in the amount of moneys paid to the association.
(d) The association may issue notice under s. 83.56 and sue for eviction under ss. 83.59-83.625 as if the association were a landlord under part II of chapter 83 if the tenant fails to pay a required payment to the association after written demand has been made to the tenant. However, the association is not otherwise considered a landlord under chapter 83 and specifically has no obligations under s. 83.51.
(e) The tenant does not, by virtue of payment of monetary obligations to the association, have any of the rights of a unit owner to vote in any election or to examine the books and records of the association.
(f) A court may supersede the effect of this subsection by appointing a receiver.
History.s. 1, ch. 76-222; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 9, ch. 77-221; s. 7, ch. 77-222; s. 6, ch. 78-328; s. 8, ch. 84-368; s. 12, ch. 90-151; s. 9, ch. 91-103; ss. 4, 5, ch. 91-426; s. 6, ch. 92-49; s. 10, ch. 94-350; s. 87, ch. 95-211; s. 856, ch. 97-102; s. 7, ch. 98-322; s. 33, ch. 99-6; s. 1, ch. 2000-201; s. 56, ch. 2000-302; s. 7, ch. 2003-14; s. 6, ch. 2007-80; s. 5, ch. 2008-240; s. 12, ch. 2010-174; s. 6, ch. 2011-196.