Q: The number of delinquent homeowners in our community has decreased through improvements in the housing market and consistent collection efforts through our management and attorneys. However, there are a few properties that remain abandoned and the lenders with first mortgages have not taken any foreclosure action going on 4 years. Are there any new strategies you can suggest?
A: Although the housing market has improved, this continues to be a problem for many communities in Florida. There are some strategies to consider. If there is still a pending mortgage foreclosure action against the property, and that case has been stalled or stagnant for some time, the association should ask the court to order the bank to provide “good cause” why the bank cannot finish the case and take over the property. Our firm has been successful with this strategy lately and obtained court orders requiring stalling lenders to pay assessments and late penalties to the association. If there is no mortgage foreclosure action at all but there remains a first mortgage on the property, the problem is more difficult. In these cases, your Board needs to meet with its legal counsel to decide whether to foreclose on its lien and take over the property directly, or explore other strategies for compelling the delinquent owner or the lender to make a move. If the property is in terrible condition and causing problems with property values in the community, the association might consider a lawsuit directly against the lender for waste and neglect of its collateral.