My wife and I recently bought a property in West Palm Beach, Florida through a foreclosure auction (foreclosed by first lien holder) for around $220k. A few days after the purchase we were informed by the president of the HOA
that there are five years of unpaid HOA fees plus legal fees, interest etc. (altogether $30k). We have since read Florida Statute Chapter 720 and understand that per the Florida statutes we are jointly and severally liable for the HOA fees that were incurred when the property was owned by the previous owner. The property was rented for part of the time (until 2012), but the HOA did not collect any of the rent from that tenant to satisfy its claims. What is our best way to proceed? Is it common to negotiate with the HOA for a partial forgiveness of the HOA-fees or legal fees or payment over time? Can we argue that fees incurred by the HOA trying to force foreclosure by the first lien holder and interest are not the responsibility of the new owner? (Excerpts of the covenants and restrictions of the community have been inserted below) Have courts have held in favor of purchasers?
About three years ago, Robert Bilsky from Jacksonville, FL asked a very similar question on this site.
Your help is greatly appreciated.
Excerpts from covenants and restrictions of the community:
All assessments for Association
Expenses, including special assessments for same, and all installments thereof and all costs of collection, including reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, at trial level, appellate level, or otherwise (collectively, the "assessments"), with interest thereon, are hereby declared to be a charge and a continuing lien upon the lot against which such assessments are made. Each assessment against a Lot, together with such interest thereon at the highest rate allowed by law and costs of collection thereof, including attorneys' fees, shall be the personal obligation of the Owner of the Lot assessed. Said lien shall be effective only from and after the time of recordation in the Public Records of Palm Beach County, Florida, of a written, acknowledged statement by the Association setting forth the amount due to the Association as of the date the statement is signed. Upon full payment of all sums secured by that lien and costs and fees accrued, the party making payment shall be entitled to a recordable Satisfaction of Lien.
An Owner, regardless of how his title to the Lot has been acquired, including by purchase at a foreclosure sale or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, is liable for all assessments that come due while he is the Owner of the Lot. The Owner's liability for assessments may not be avoided by waiver of suspension of the use or enjoyment of any common area or the abandonment of the Lot subject to such assessments. The Owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous Owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title, subject, with respect to a first mortgagee or tis successor, or an assignee, as a subsequent holder of the first mortgage
, who acquires title by foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, to the limitations of Section(NNN) NNN-NNNN2)(c), Florida Statutes, as amended from time to time. This liability is without prejudice to any right the present Owner may have to recover any amounts paid by the present Owner from the previous Owner.