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The Don’t of Dues

A recent editorial in TBO.com looks at whether the power invested in homeowner associations has enabled a trampling of the rights of property owners.

The question of whether state law should be changed to better protect actual owners takes on particular urgency when you hear about the kind of episodes recounted in the piece. One association in Pasco County evicted a homeowner’s tenant, changed the locks, and began renting the home to collect dues on a house that’s not even in foreclosure.

While paying appropriate dues is justified, as they equalize maintenance costs of neighborhood amenities enjoyed by all residents in a given community, leveraging overdue fees into effective ownership is excessive.

Florida law currently allows unpaid dues to become a lien on the property. In a housing crisis, where more homeowners are unable to pay dues and more homes are abandoned, it’s proven increasingly difficult to figure out how to collect the lien.

Because accumulated fees on foreclosed properties have slowed down the liquidation process, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have instituted new rules that will require a decision by banks and mortgage companies within 30 days of receiving an offer for a short sale.

A mechanism of this kind could help ease the legal logjam of distressed properties and enable a quicker housing recovery.

Please be advised that this article does not constitute legal advice nor does it provide any basis to form an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article should be copied without the express permission of the author.

Mr. Hounchell has a law degree from The University of Florida College of Law and he is a principal in The Law Offices Charles A. Hounchell, P.A., in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Hounchell earned his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and he obtained his MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (“Thunderbird”) in Glendale, Arizona.

Mr. Hounchell is a licensed title insurance agent and a real estate agent with Smith and Associates, Inc. http://www.smithandassociates.com/; http://www.livecasanova.com/. He has lived in many different countries, including Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Germany and he speaks Spanish and Portuguese. A significant portion of Mr. Hounchell’s law practice is concentrated on Real Estate Law. He can be reached at 813-230-3376 or charlie@flpropertylaw.com.