Does a bank have to pay maintenance fees on a property in foreclosure? Is there any reason a condominium community shouldn't accept Section 8 tenants?
These are questions from Sun Sentinel readers. And we have answers with help from South Florida attorney Lisa Magill of Becker & Poliakoff. If you have a question about Florida shared community law you would like answered in print, please send an e-mail with your full name and city name to dvasquez@SunSentinel.com.
Andre Deland of Margate says his board is considering increasing monthly maintenance fees, or passing a special assessment, to cover losses to the community's revenue caused by homes in foreclosure. Deland believes the banks should pay the fees on homes they have foreclosed. Should they?
The answer is no. "If a home is in foreclosure, that means the foreclosure lawsuit is not complete and the property hasn't changed hands," said Magill. "The non-paying owner is still the owner and therefore still responsible for payment." If the association cannot pay its bills, it must raise revenue through a special assessment or another increase in the budget. Magill adds that recent case law reiterates that the association cannot force a bank to pay for a property it does not own. Once the bank becomes the owner, its responsibility to pay current assessments is the same as any other owner. Both condo and HOA law also require the bank to pay the lesser of 12 months worth of assessments, or 1 percent of the original mortgage, for the back-due assessments in addition to the current charges. A condominium association is entitled to file a lien if the bank doesn't pay within 30 days of a written demand. An HOA can file a lien if the bank doesn't pay what it owes within 45 days of written demand.
Ro Malhotra is a property manager for an homeowners community in Coconut Creek. He says that his community has begun fielding requests from renters on government-subsidized housing programs.
Is there any reason a community should not accept Section 8 tenants?
No. "I hear this question often and frankly I don't understand why associations would object under these circumstances, so long as occupancy by the tenant will comply with the rules," Magill said. "If there is a rent subsidy, you know that rent will be paid." Case closed. "In my experience I've found that tenants with rent subsidies have more incentive to obey rules, since they may face losing the subsidy for violating the terms and conditions of the housing," Magill said.