New laws protect homeowner associations

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 2 NBC

By Saundra Weathers

Published November 23, 2011


COLLIER COUNTY, FL - Homeowner's association fees are something many homeowners have to pay, but what happens when your neighbors don't pay up and leave you to foot the bill?


"Delinquent homeowners and foreclosures put pressure on the remaining homeowners," Novana condo association President Katrin Strenberg said.

Strenberg attended The Continental Group's seminar to learn how to protect homeowners and associations from those extra fees.

"A lot of people got in over their heads and can't get out. They're underwater and so you know what happens next," Strenberg said.

Jason Mclendon says he isn't in over his head but he has a message to his neighbors who might be.

"You've got to pay your bills. If you don't and it hurts 

other people, that's what the law is there for," he said.

And some of those laws passed in this year's legislature protect associations. One gives associations the right to shut down access to amenities if owners don't pay up.

"People are saying uh oh, maybe I ought to pay my bill so that I can use the pool or the theater room or get better access," Continental Group Vice President Kregg Hale said.

For owners who rent out their property and don't pay their association fees, the renters will have to pay their rent to the association instead of their landlord until the fees are paid.

Representatives from The Continental Group say homeowners associations can take it a step further. They say the association can actually foreclose on a property if the homeowner doesn't pay their association fees.

"That actually is a difficult concept for most people to understand because they cannot understand the we actually don't own the unit and can do whatever we want with it," Strenberg said.

That's right, the homeowners association can foreclose on your home, even though they're not your bank. Serious laws that will hopefully get owners to pay their fees.


To be very honest I have seldom seen a more badly researched and misleading story like this. It's factually not true. There are no new laws that protect associations or the still paying owners. The only way to make up the deficits caused by unpaid dues and/or foreclosures is by increasing the dues of the other owners or levy special assessments. Associations can foreclose for unpaid dues for many years. Disallowing owners in arrears to use the amenities may be a good gimmick, but doesn't pay the bills. If the association forecloses they may get up to the lesser of 12 months in unpaid dues or 1% of the original mortgage,  but they will be stuck with all the other unpaid dues and the legal fees -- often up to $5,000. The statements made are absolutely misleading and are made to give the board members and owners a false sense of security.

Airing reports like this that give people the wrong message is definitely bad customer service. Just read Florida statutes 718 and 720 and you will realize that most of the statements made are just blowing smoke to make these owners feel better. Don't forget that Continental is part of the lobbying groups that helped to create the bad laws that are now coming back to haunt the still paying owners. The situation is a mess -- and it will get worse!