Special assessments are a necessary yet unpopular facet of life in any community association, though they tend to be more prevalent in condominium associations. A special assessment is an assessment levied over and above an association’s annual budget that an owner must pay in addition to their regular assessments. Florida law gives great latitude to Boards of Directors to levy special assessments when additional revenue is needed for the maintenance, repair, or replacement of common elements. However, if special assessments are not properly levied, they can result it costly litigation.
In addition to any requirements found in an association’s Declaration or Bylaws, the procedures for levying special assessments are detailed in Section 718.112, of the Florida Condominium Act, and in 720.303, of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act. For condominium association special assessments, Section 718.112(2)(c)1, Florida Statutes provides in pertinent part:
In other words, notice of a Board meeting in which a special assessment will be considered must be sent to all owners and posted 14-days in advance of the meeting. The notice must state that a special assessment will be considered, include the estimated costs of the assessment, and briefly detail the assessment’s purpose. The individual who mailed the notice must then execute an affidavit of compliance with the 14-day requirement, and file the notice and affidavit in the association’s records. Finally, Florida Statute 718.116(10) requires an invoice issued to all owners with the amount of the assessment the owner owes, and the purpose of the special assessment. Homeowners’ associations are required to follow a very similar process to levy a special assessment. Section 720.303(2)(c)2. of the Homeowners’ Association Act also requires a 14-day notice stating the amount and purpose of the assessment. However, homeowners’ associations are not required to execute an affidavit or issue an invoice to owners. Regardless, it is best practice to prepare both documents and keep them in the association’s records.
Although the need for a special assessment is occasionally the result of an unexpected expense, most often special assessments are the result of associations failing to properly budget and fund their reserves. Inexpensive regular assessments are often an enticing selling point when prospective buyers are considering a community. However, the result of inadequate budgets and reserves leads to deferred maintenance and outdated common areas. It is self-evident special assessments place a financial burden Written notice of a meeting at which a nonemergency special assessment or an amendment to rules regarding unit use will be considered must be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the unit owners and posted conspicuously on the condominium property at least 14 days before the meeting. Evidence of compliance with this 14-day notice requirement must be made by an affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed with the official records of the association. Notice of any meeting in which regular or special assessments against unit owners are to be considered must specifically state that assessments will be considered and provide the estimated cost and description of the purposes for such assessments. on owners, especially those with “fixed incomes.” Special assessments may result in the need to send non- paying owners’ accounts for collections. This is an unfortunate and unintended result of special assessments and highlights the need to properly fund the budget and reserves in order to spread out association expenses. At Tankel Law Group, we have vast experience assisting clients with levying special assessments. Conversely, we can also rectify those special assessments that have been improperly levied. In the event it becomes necessary to collect a special assessment from a non-paying owner, our collections department is highly effective and aggressive at recovering all amounts owed.