We know that this headline reads like a Florida-specific issue, but Florida is often used as a guideline for other state laws and courts. For this reason, we think it’s important for homeowners and condo associations in other states to take note.
In Accardi v. Regions Bank, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that awarded the bank a deficiency judgment and remanded the circuit court to enter an amended final judgment to include attorney’s fees and taxable costs only. The bank was not able to recover its deficiency judgment.
This happened because of a Florida Statute that states “Actions other than the recovery of real property shall be commenced as follows … within one year” (of a certificate of title being issued or acceptance of a deed in lieu of foreclosure, that is):
“An action to enforce a claim of a deficiency related to a note secured by a mortgage against a residential property that is a one-family to four-family dwelling unit. The limitations period shall commence on the day after the certificate is issued by the clerk of court or the day after the mortgagee accepts a deed in lieu of foreclosure.”
That’s a lot of legal jargon that most simply translates to say that there is a one-year statute of limitations period for which a claim for a deficiency may be acted upon (not to be confused with the timeframe for enforcing a deficiency judgment that has already been entered) in order to avoid the deficiency claim from becoming time-barred.
This Accardi v. Regions Bank ruling got us all thinking. Clearly, it reflects a problem for banks and lenders who have had to foreclose and were left with a sale that did not satisfy the judgment amount at foreclosure, but that isn’t really the takeaway here. The takeaway is that, in theory, this same statute could potentially be used to prevent delayed collections for HOAs and condo associations when attempting to recover assessments post-foreclosure.
Is your community association trying to recover outstanding debt post-foreclosure? You should be.
If the association was the foreclosing party, and they recovered less than the amount owed as a result of the sale of the property, then that would give rise to pursuing a claim for a deficiency. So it would be very worthwhile to enforce a claim for a deficiency within a year of the certificate of title being issued.
Again, this statute of limitations is specific to Florida, so if your own state already has statutes that have different time restrictions, you need to follow those to the letter of the law. But doing this seemingly small task in the right time frame could be the difference between getting your deserved monies owed or leaving it all on the table due to a dickered-out semantic technicality.
Similarly, if an association has debt that is uncollectable from a subsequent owner due to superior lien foreclosure or tax sale, the association should act quickly to enforce its collection rights on this debt. While the fact pattern under this scenario is different from pursuing a deficiency claim created by virtue of the association’s own foreclosure sale, it would be wise to take action to collect on this debt sooner rather than later, to avoid any potential argument that would suggest it is a deficiency and that it is time-barred.
Collections delayed are collections denied.
No HOA or Condo association should stop trying to collect the money it is owed to them until said debt has been declared uncollectible by a collection professional, and that may not be your community association attorney. Don’t leave money on the table and don’t accept HOA and condo delinquency write-offs. Let a professional Condo and HOA collection company recover the money that is owed to your community association.
Axela Technologies, the nation’s leading collection company for community associations, does know the laws nationwide and we suggest that pursuing that debt at no cost and no risk is a good strategy. A great strategy, you must send the file to collections before it is too late. Perhaps a court will say that beyond one year is too late.
Don’t write off debt that could have been recovered. Call us for a free review and collection analysis. Not only can we collect from debtors who have been foreclosed on, but we can also collect from homeowners who are behind on their assessments, all at no cost to the association.