First, someone in your situation indeed wants to check to ensure that there were no outstanding assessments, fees, etc, owed to the HOA by the seller. According to Florida Statutes 718.116
"Assessments; liability; lien and priority; interest; collection.—
(1)(a) A unit owner, regardless of how his or her title has been acquired, including by purchase at a foreclosure sale or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, is liable for all assessments which come due while he or she is the unit owner. Additionally, a unit 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.
This liability is without prejudice to any right the owner may have to recover from the previous owner the amounts paid by the owner. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “previous owner” does not include an association
that acquires title to a delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure. A present unit owner’s liability for unpaid assessments is limited to any unpaid assessments that accrued before the association acquired title to the delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure."
So if there were such balances, I am afraid that COA (or the management company as the HOA's agent) had the right to recover past due fees from either
the PAST or CURRENT owner.
Now if there were NOT any such balances, one may have to sue the COA (or threaten to do so) to get the money back. I say the COA because the management company is acting on the COA's behalf. One may have to go to small claims Court - see here
. Often, simply a letter threatening to sue may do the trick.
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