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Florida condo associations can foreclose for unpaid assessments

The owner of a house risks getting foreclosed on by the bank if he or she falls behind on the mortgage payments, until that debt is paid off. A condominium resident likely has a mortgage too, but there is another way he or she can lose their residence to foreclosure.

Condo residents in Miami know that they must pay a fee to their condo association, usually on a monthly basis. State law gives the association a lien on each unit in the condominium. The lien acts as security against payment of these regular assessments. A valid lien must describe the specific parcel of the condominium, the name of the record owner, the association's name and address, the amount due and due dates.

If the owner falls behind in assessments, it could have a serious impact on the association's cash flow. This in turn could limit the association's ability to make necessary repairs and pay its bills, making life more difficult for the other residents.

One thing an association can do to prevent financial disaster is to initiate litigation against the delinquent owner. This is considered a form of foreclosure. In a successful foreclosure, the association can recover the unpaid assessments, plus reasonable attorney's fees.

The law requires an association to provide at least 30 days notice of its intention to foreclose its lien on the owner's property. Fear of going to court and possibly losing their condo motivates many owners to pay up, or make arrangements to settle the matter.

Associations dealing with a delinquent owner can turn to an attorney for advice and help with handling the problem.

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