Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune
By SHANNON BEHNKEN
March 29, 2010
TAMPA - Some homeowners associations fed up with unpaid assessments on foreclosure homes are using a new legal tool to force lenders to pay.
With so many abandoned distressed properties, it is becoming increasingly difficult for associations to pay bills for services such as water, cable and maintenance. When there are shortfalls, associations typically have little choice but to raise fees for all unit owners who do pay their bills.
Legally, the owner of the property must pay the fees. But when banks take months or years to foreclose, properties are left in limbo. Some lenders hold off on foreclosure because so many properties are worth less than the mortgage amount. This leaves no one paying association fees.
Enter reverse foreclosure.
When a home or condominium owner stops paying, the association files for foreclosure itself and takes title. It can do this because of the unpaid fees. The association can't sell the home, though, because of the bank's lien. So it asks a judge to give the title back to the bank.
Once the bank owns the property, it has to pay the fees.
The legal tactic is new but is gaining popularity as more associations hear about it.
So far, it has been used mostly by associations in South Florida.
It worked this year for Keys Gate Homeowners Association in Homestead. A lender had filed a foreclosure notice for a condo more than two years ago but was dragging its feet.
The association, represented by The Association Law Group of Miami, was awarded title of a home in January. The judge transferred ownership to the bank the same day.
read Donna Berger's opinion:
Jan Bergemann's opinion about REVERSED FORECLOSURE: