Tampa Bay, Fl Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
If you live in an HOA, building with a condo association, development with a homeowners association, or have recently purchased a home in a development with a homeowners association, here is the news you need to know.
Soon to come before the US Congress is potential legislation regarding a moratorium on debt collection. This new legislation if passed will prohibit debt collection until the president’s National Emergency Declaration is lifted.
This new legislation expands the definition of a debt collector to include creditors such as homeowners’ associations, condo associations, and community associations.
The bill also includes civil liability provisions that can be enforced against community associations and homeowners’ associations with penalties and fines up to 10 times the damage.
While, it may be hard to conceive that homeowners’ associations would proceed with debt collection activities on association fees at a time like this, g the Nature of community associations and their leadership the possibility of proceeding against homeowners who might be suffering economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is not hard to perceive.
If you are a member of the Board of Directors or an officer in your community association or HOA, please note that this legislation is pending and make sure that your board and officers are fully aware of the consequences should this legislation become law.
There will be a lot of opposition to this legislation from lawyers and community association organizations since a great deal of their revenue from community association practices comes from filing liens and debt collection activities.
If you live in a controlled community, you should contact your House of Representatives member and your US S and urge them that the restrictions on community association debt collection be included in this legislation.
Things to watch for:
If your home or condo has a mortgage, and the association fees are paid from escrow it would be a good idea to check regularly to ensure these fees are being paid.
If your home or condo has a mortgage, and you are behind in your mortgage payments don’t assume that your mortgage company is paying your homeowners or condo association fees. If they are not, and the association files a lien or proceeds with a debt collection you may have no argument against their action.
If you are the person who the president of the homeowners or condo association has it in for or the person who was in a disagreement with a member of the board or even a neighbor be extra aware that your condo association or homeowners association fees or dues are paid.
Unfortunately, community association management is often as much about retribution as it is about Property Management. So the rule is resident beware, resident be informed and resident be careful.
Finally, regardless of your politics, it would be a good idea to support this legislation going forward. You should contact your US senator and US house of representatives member and ask them to support this legislation and the provision preventing debt collection from community associations.
Not sure how to find them? Just put in My US senator your ZIP Code, and to find your member of the House of Representatives enter My member of the US house of representatives and your ZIP Code enter either or both into Google, and you should get the information.
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