The story is common all over Key West in the down turn of our economy. An investor owns a condo or townhouse, they owe more on the property then it is worth so they stop making payments. In the following years that it takes to foreclose the property is rented and the owner continues to collect the rent, but not pay the mortgage company or the association. At this point the association falls short of money and has to postpone needed repairs and maintenance or collect more money from the owners who are current. This puts a burden on the association and their members. It also has a negative effect on property values by making it harder for a new buyer to get financing. When their mortgage company sees a high number of owners not paying the association it makes no difference how good their credit is the property won’t qualify.
A new law passed by the Florida legislature makes it easier for condo and homeowner associations to collect back dues owned to them. They now have the right to collect the rent directly from the tenants until the dues are current. If the tenant is ordered to make a payment to the association, it counts as rent credit. The tenant pays the remaining balance to the landlord. For example, if a lease agreement calls for the renter to pay $600 a month including $100 association fees, traditionally they would have paid the whole amount to the landlord. Now, under the law, the tenant would pay the landlord $500 and the association $100.
When a renter is required to pay the association directly, they should keep a copy of the notice from the association seeking payment, as well as cancelled checks and/or receipts. If the landlord demands the entire $600, the tenant should send them copies of the documents and receipts showing their payments to the association.
“If the landlord files an eviction, it’s very important that the tenant doesn’t sit back and assume the payment to the association will protect them; they need to answer the eviction lawsuit,” In this situation the Landlord will not be able to evict the tenant for nonpayment only the condo association can. The law helps the tenant if they are doing what they’re supposed to do while the landlord isn’t.