Bloomberg.com has just reported on a story where some homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”) in Florida have taken action to force banks to proceed with foreclosing on seriously delinquent mortgages or risk losing their interest in the property. In one case, JPMorgan lost its claim to a mortgage when a court found the mortgage was more than four years delinquent.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some banks to proceed slowly with foreclosures in Colorado. Interestingly, major national banks seem to be particularly adept at putting off foreclosure sales and even withdrawing the foreclosure action only to re-file at a later date.
Why do HOAs care when banks do not pursue foreclosure on delinquent mortgages in a timely manner? When homeowners stop paying their mortgages and face the fact that they will lose their home to foreclosure, they also stop paying their assessments. It’s not unusual for homeowners to quit paying their assessments months before the lender commences a public trustee foreclosure action. Since these foreclosure actions can be continued in Colorado for up to a year after the initial sale date is set, the homeowners may not have paid assessments for 2 years or even longer. The economic impact on HOAs of lenders failing to proceed with foreclosures in a timely manner cannot be overstated.
It is also not uncommon for homeowners to abandon their homes once a foreclosure action is commenced. As a result, these abandoned units can sometimes fall into disrepair. Whether it’s a burst pipe in a condominium unit or shabby looking single family homes with neglected landscapes – abandoned units can affect property values in these communities and become a drain on association resources.
While Florida seems to be the only state where courts have seriously considered the option of terminating a lender’s claim on a mortgage, the moral of this story for HOAs is to take a proactive and aggressive approach to collecting delinquent assessments. Talk with your legal counsel about the best timeframe for turning over delinquent accounts for collections, recording liens, utilizing receiverships, foreclosing on the association’s lien and pursuing collections on bank-owned properties.
If you have questions regarding collections or would like to engage legal counsel to assist your association with recovering delinquencies, we invite you to contact Stephane Dupont via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303-863-1870.