• +1 305 670 4455
  • Email Us

HOA Documents Override State Laws in Previous Owner’s Unpaid Maintenance Assessments

  • HOA Documents Override State Laws in Previous Owner’s Unpaid Maintenance Assessments

    HOA Documents Override State Laws in Previous Owner’s Unpaid Maintenance Assessments

    Florida district courts of appeal have reaffirmed a decision concerning housing community associations’ governing documents will override existing law as it concerns to assigning liability for previous owners’ unpaid maintenance charges.
    This was reaffirmed most recently in a case concerning Beacon Hill HOA v. Colfin Ah-Florida 7. The housing association appealed the case, which was ruled in favor of Colfin and found that Colfin was not liable to pay anything owed by the previous tenants when the company purchased the property via foreclosure sale due to the associations recorded agreements.
    Beacon Hill asserted that the language found in its declaration followed what is known as “Kaufman” language, named after a 1977 case Kaufman v. Shere. “Kaufman” language stated that the declaration is subject to Florida laws as they are “amended from time to time.” Beacon Hill pointed to a 2007 decision that amended Florida’s HOA laws and assigned liability of payment to a subsequent owner for the previous owner’s charges. However, The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s ruling and cited a 2015 case Pudlit 2 Join Venture v. Westwood Gardens Homeowners Association. The case found that Florida statute could not impede a pre-existing declaration and declared that Pudlit was a third-party beneficiary to the declaration documents. The Court also stated that the statute in question, Chapter 720, indicates that it isn’t intended to impair contracts that were “effective before the effective date of the act.”
    In the Pudlit case, the Fourth DCA found that the declaration did not specifically include a provision to allow for changes in the state’s HOA laws. The Third DCA took this ruling and compared it to the case involving Beacon Hill, finding them to be similar in claim and scope. They stated that since Beacon Hill had not specifically updated their old declarations to include language that allows for changing state laws, they could not use Florida’s 2007 change as justification in their case. HOAs are encouraged to expressly include amendments that codifies the “Kaufman” language allowing for state law changes to be incorporated into older housing documents.