Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 20

Community
Associations -
A Growing Source
of Business

by Theodore J. Hamilton, Esq.
Theodore J. Hamilton is a partner of
Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. His practice
concentrates on Corporate Law, Community
Association Law, Commercial Litigation,
Collections, Secured Transactions, Real
Estate Transactions, Civil Trial Practice, Real
Estate Litigation, Estate Planning and Probate.
Attorney Hamilton has been in private practice
his entire career. Ted has been a member
of the Commercial Law League of America
since 1997, Editor In Chief of the Commercial
Law World Magazine since 2016 and current
member of the CLLA Board of Governors.
www.whhlaw.com

A

bout 15 years ago, I hired a lateral attorney who
represented over 300 community associations. It
was 2003 and the economy continued to tick along at a
nice clip. These associations consisted of homeowners'
associations and condominium associations of all
sizes. Some had as few as 10 residences and some had
over 1000 homes. This lateral attorney handled the
collections and general counsel work for all of these
associations. A few years ago, this attorney passed
away and I inherited his practice. Presently our firm
represents about 250 to 300 Associations in their
collections litigation and general representation.
My story might be unique. But any collections
attorney can handle collections for Associations after
learning the law applicable to Associations. In fact,
many attorneys practicing in this area handle only the
debt collections for associations. In Florida, as in most
states, state laws allow associations with the property
covenants in place to lien those units subject to the
association covenants. These assessment liens allow for
foreclosure of the liens by the Association for unpaid
assessments.

The liens don't prime the
first mortgage, but they do
allow for foreclosure and
possession of the home.
20 COMMERCIAL LAW WORLD

The procedure requires knowledge of the association
law. In Florida, for example, the association must send
two presuit notices to the debtor prior to instituting a
foreclosure suit.
Also, fee arrangements for collection of Association
liens also vary. Some firms charge an hourly rate.
Other firms have an arrangement to collect the
attorneys' fee only if the debt is collected. These types
of arrangements are not based upon a percentage of
recovery but are based on the success of collections at a
set hourly rate. In Florida, attorneys' fees are due upon
delinquency in paying assessments. Often, the attorneys'
fee may exceed the amount due for the assessment. For
the firms that have this arrangement in place, they must
have a volume of collections to make their fees pay off.
Bankruptcy attorneys might also find work in
this area. When a homeowner files for bankruptcy
protection, the association often appears in bankruptcy
court to ensure it retains a secured position. Often
the debtor's counsel may try to strip the lien from the
security. However, with increasing property values being
the norm, the lien of the association is often secured and
should remain in place even after the filing of a chapter
7. In a chapter 13, the lien will result in the association
retaining a position as a secured creditor in the plan.
Thus, bankruptcy work exists in this area as well.
Agencies and Lists have yet to enter the Association
marketplace. Surprisingly, agencies have not sought out
the collections work of Associations. Much of this work
might be handled at the start by an agency. The larger

OCT /NOV /DEC 2017


http://www.whhlaw.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017

Contents
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover1
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover2
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Contents
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 2
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 3
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 4
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 5
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 6
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 7
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 8
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 9
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Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 12
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 13
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 14
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 15
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 16
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 17
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 18
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 19
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 20
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 21
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 22
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 23
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 24
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 25
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 26
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 27
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 28
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover3
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover4
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