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This is a Florida Condo Association question: A unit owner

Customer Question

This is a Florida Condo Association question:
A unit owner commits suicide and his heirs formally reject his estate, because the unit is 'under water', and the balance of the estate is in negative net worth. Neither the dues nor the mortgage payments on the unit have been made for months.
The Association had started foreclosure proceedings, but put them on hold when the owner killed himself.
The electricity on the unit was cut off for non payment.
The Association entered the apartment and turned on the electricity at its own cost on a form of 'emergency measure' lest mold set in and spread to other units.
The problem:
1. The Mortgagee/Lender is not actively doing anything.
2. The estate has no net assets and no person or person anywhere that can be contacted to legally do anything. The Ass'n is in contact with the heirs father/representative who provided the information in question. Having rejected the estate the heirs are laoth to do anything else related to the estate lest they be deemed to have taken it over and become responisble for its debts.
3. Waiting for the Lender to act could take months if not years, and dues would remain unpaid and eventually uncollectible from anyone, (beyond a minor repayment by the Lender at some point in time)

The options:
Option # XXXXX The practical option
1. The Ass'n takes over the unit in a de facto move whether entirely legal or not "to preserve the asset". Meanwhile the foreclosure suit, previously on hold, is reinstated.
2. It so informs the Lender as the only true stakeholder and the Probate Court where the Will is being probated.
3. It then proceeds to rent unit the unit subject to the rights of the first mortgage lender.
That allows the Ass'n to recover some of its past losses and ensure that until the Lender acts, the dues will be covered.
Option # XXXXX; The entirely safe legal option:
1. The Association continues with its foreclosure proceedings and waits either, for those proceedings to end in the Ass'n title to the unit, or the Mortgage Lender becoming the owner.
That means the Ass'n continues to lose money every month as it pays for the electricity to protect the building from mold, but receives no dues at all.
The difference in the 2 methods could cost the Ass'n up to $15 - $20,000

Those favoring the de facto move say it's legal and nobody is getting hurt anyway, and notice will have been given to all possible stakeholders.
Others question the legality of the de facto move.
The Question is:
1. Does the de facto move have at least the color of legality?
2. If not what is the actual risk if it is used and who can claim to having been hurt?
3, Finally would it help if the heirs actually signed a Quit Claim Deed to the Ass'n although they have formally rejected the estate.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawBeagle replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

While I can't offer you specific legal advice, I can give you some general principles that may help you.


When someone signs a quit claim deed, they sign over their rights to that person. So in this case, they would assign their ownership rights to the Association. This would allow the Association to rent the property, but would not of course stop the foreclosure.

 

The risk of someone just "taking over" the property is that technically, they would be trespassing. If the unit was rented an heir complained, theoretically they could make a claim for the rents collected by the Association, although they would have the hurdle that they signed their rights to the estate away. A quit claim deed would alleviate this problem. One possible risk is that there could be heirs that have not been identified, but the level of that risk would depend on what stage the settlement of the estate was in.

 

Thank you so much and I hope this information is helpful! If my response is helpful to you, please leave positive feedback! Before leaving negative feedback, please let me know if you have follow up questions by hitting REPLY to Expert. I am always happy to answer follow up questions.

Just Answer experts DO NOT provide legal services. In order to obtain a legal opinion or advice, you must retain the services of a licensed attorney located in your state. The answer provided is FOR INFORMATIONAL OR RESEARCH PURPOSES only, and does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON TO MAKE LEGAL DECISIONS. FURTHERMORE, by clicking Accept or viewing my response, you agree that this response WILL NOT be used to obtain credit at any institute of learning and is for background or research purposes only. YOUR QUESTIONS AND MY RESPONSE ARE NOT CONFIDENTIAL, as they are viewable by the public. No attorney-client relationship is formed.

 

 

the Association would own all of their rights and could rent the unit, pending the Lender completing the foreclosure. The only person that could complain about that procedure

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your response:


1. I believe that a Quit Claim Deed transfers only whatever rights may legally belong to the transferor, with zero warranty or representation that said party actually has any such rights.


2. Therefore since the known heirs have formally renounced any interest in the estate, they would be transferring nothing. However the 'transfer' would provide the 'color of a case' that all was done that could be done.


3. If the risk of 'trespassing' is a civil risk limited to the appearance of some heir other than the ones who renounced their rights surfacing, it is well worth taking.


4. However to minimize said risks it would be useful, don't you think, to officially inform the known heirs of the Ass'n action, as well as to seek information form the Probate Coourt of any othe possible heirs.


In the end the practical solution seems the most reasonable provided the additonal precautions are taken.

Expert:  LawBeagle replied 1 year ago.

 

Hello,

 

You are correct that a quit claim deed only transfers what rights that belong to the transferor. While you can definitely inform the heirs and seek information regarding who the heirs are from the Probate court (this will help you determine if all of the heirs have been identified), I can't comment as to the advisability of the Association "taking over" the condo, as I am prohibited from giving you legal advice specific to your situation.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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