If you live in a house, townhome, or condominium that is part of a common interest community in Florida, you are most likely responsible for paying dues and assessments to the homeowners’ association (HOA) or condominium association (CONDO). If you don’t pay, in most cases the HOA or CONDO can get a lien on your property that could lead to a foreclosure. If you don't pay the required dues or assessments to your homeowners’ association (CONDO-HOA), the CONDO-HOA can foreclose on your home. However, there are defenses available to a foreclosure which we will not discuss here. In Florida, there are two separate sets of statutes that govern association liens. One covers HOAs in planned communities (Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes) and the other covers CONDOs (Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes).
Florida Statute 720.3085 states that before an HOA can file for foreclosure they must provide the homeowner with proper notice. Florida law requires the HOA to send notice to the homeowner of their intent to record a lien at least 45 days prior to recording the lien. The notice must provide details of the amount owed and provide for an opportunity to pay the amount due prior to filing foreclosure. Additionally, Florida foreclosure law requires the HOA to send the homeowner notice of their intent to foreclose on the lien at least 45 days prior to filing for foreclosure. The notice of intent to foreclosure the lien is supposed to be sent after the HOA files their lien for the past due fees and assessments. If the HOA does not send the homeowner both the notice of their intent to record a claim of lien and notice of intent to foreclosure on the lien they should not be entitled to foreclosure.
720.3085 Payment for assessments; lien claims.—
(1) When authorized by the governing documents, the association has a lien on each parcel to secure the payment of assessments and other amounts provided for by this section. Except as otherwise set forth in this section, the lien is effective from and shall relate back to the date on which the original declaration of the community was recorded. However, as to first mortgages of record, the lien is effective from and after recording of a claim of lien in the public records of the county in which the parcel is located. This subsection does not bestow upon any lien, mortgage, or certified judgment of record on July 1, 2008, including the lien for unpaid assessments created in this section, a priority that, by law, the lien, mortgage, or judgment did not have before July 1, 2008.
The full statute on HOA foreclosure's is HERE: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_ mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0720/Sections/0 720.3085.html
Generally the CONDO-HOA will place a lien on your property. The mortgage will typically be 'first place' of all lien holders, and would be satisfied (at least partially) prior to any other liens. There have been cases, however, when the HOA has in fact foreclosed on properties...they have the right to initiate a foreclosure action. It is advisable to consult an attorney for specifics in your case.