An association’s monthly or quarterly assessments are the life blood of the community. Without the ability to count on the steady stream of unit owner assessment payments, properly budgeting and meeting its regular expense obligations becomes a challenge if not impossible. Some communities have larger collection problems than others and are desperate to improve the collectability of assessments. Certain collection agencies in south Florida have preyed on associations’ financial desperation with promises of up front advances or funding of unpaid assessments in exchange for these collection agencies receiving certain collection rights. This is where problems often arise. Typically, collection services agreements are thrust on an association by these collection agencies. Unwitting Boards of Directors have been known to sign whatever agreement is provided to them by the collection agency without the benefit of an attorney’s review. These collection service agreements often times are grossly lopsided in favor of the collection agency whereby the Association agrees to sell off the collection of future assessments in exchange for small up-front advances, almost always a bad business deal for the association. These collection agencies intentionally seek to lock the association into contractually unreasonable terms, including improperly transferring their accounting and collection rights, with little to no benefit to the association. Further, collection agencies routinely fail to advise the association client that they cannot perform customary statutory collection services unlike an attorney. Collection agencies are barred from preparing or filing Claims of Lien for unpaid assessments due from a delinquent owner nor can they file lien foreclosure lawsuits on behalf of the association as those efforts would constitute the unauthorized practice of law. Whether an onerous one-sided collection agency services agreement or any other vendor related contract, an association should have an attorney review all contracts prior to execution.
About SJW Law Group, PLLC
SJW Law Group, PLLC was formed in 2018 headed by Scott J. Wortman, Esq. who has been practicing law for twenty-five (25) years. Scott J. Wortman, Esq. is a Florida Bar Board Certified Real Estate Attorney and a Florida Bar Board Certified Condominium and Planned Development Law Attorney. Throughout the entirety of his career, Mr. Wortman has handled all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions including contract drafting, review and examination of title work, curing title defects, extensive interaction with buyers, sellers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and lenders for coordination of all closing matters. For the past dozen years, Mr. Wortman has maintained an extensive community association practice serving as counsel for dozens of homeowner’s association and condominium associations throughout the state of Florida overseeing their governance issues, covenant enforcement, collection matters, litigation and compliance with Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act. Since 1994 Mr. Wortman has represented small and mid-size businesses with regard to their corporate matters, including drafting shareholders agreements, employment contracts, purchase and sale of business assets, commercial leasing issues, as well as dissolution and partnership disputes. Mr. Wortman is joined by associate Sharlene Goldstein, Esq. who assists Mr. Wortman with regard to his community association matters.