CAI lawyers in Florida (and most likely elsewhere) are whining about one of the few court decisions that ever favored a homeowner against an HOA. It’s a case where the homeowner wrote a check for $840 with the notation, “in full and final satisfaction (of disputed amount).” The homeowner included a letter with the same basic language.
The HOA attorney instructed his clients to cash the check, but only apply part of it toward the original disputed amount. An Appellate Court has now ruled that since the check was cashed, the HOA cannot go after the $38,000 in additional fees it claimed was owed by the homeowner.
This is another one of those trashy HOA scams that have given the industry such a horrible reputation among American homeowners. If a homeowner claims, rightly or wrongly, that an HOA fine was improperly assessed, the HOA immediately begins tacking on late fees, fines, attorney’s fees, collection costs and interest. Florida law forces the homeowner to pay the most recent fees first. In other words, interest, collection costs, lawyers, fines, late fees, and only then can the homeowner ever repay the original debt.
It’s a beautiful system which has worked well for generations of Mafia families and for low-life debt collectors. While the debtor desperately tries to pay his original debt, the associated fines and interest keep rising, as do legal fees and collections. It’s a daisy chain that’s impossible to break. It’s a massive money maker for lawyers and collections agencies who, while doing absolutely no work, can raise their charges indiscriminately and perpetually until the homeowner is broken. Of course, the HOA prances in and seizes the home which it promptly puts up for auction. The lawyers then begin picking through the estate of the bankrupted homeowner. The system is fundamentally unfair to the individual homeowner who never has a chance to plead for his own day in court.
So in this rare decision where the Court ruled in favor of the homeowner, the tears and gnashing of teeth are being heard throughout the CAI community.