Case Law Update: Assessments are Consumer Debts Under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act

In a recent case, Kelly v. Duggan, 282 So.3d 969 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 2019), out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeals looked at whether condominium association assessments qualify as “consumer debts” under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). The FCCPA, Florida Statutes §559.55 et seq. (“FCCPA”) and its federal counterpart, Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”) protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection activities and regulate consumer debt collection in Florida. Like the FDCPA, the FCCPA prohibits creditors and debt collectors from engaging in fraudulent, abusive, and harassing tactics in collecting debts for the State of Florida.

In Duggan, a dispute arose between a homeowner and condominium association concerning disputed past due assessments. A condominium owner alleged that the president of the Association violated the FCCPA by locking the unit owner out of a storage unit, making derogatory public statements about the unit owner, and disclosing information about the unit owner’s reputation to a vendor. The unit owner claimed that the president’s actions violated the terms of the FCCPA. The trial court dismissed the unit owner’s complaint citing a previous case from Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, Bryan v. Clayton, 698 So. 2d 1236 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1997), which held that the FDCPA and the FCCPA’s definition of “debt” excludes maintenance assessments owed to a homeowner’s Association. Continue reading

DBPR Emergency Order 2020-04 Suspending Damage Requirement For Condominium Association Emergency Powers

On March 27, 2020, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) issued Emergency Order 2020-04 in response to the severe outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”).

This Emergency Order suspends one of the precon­ditions on an association’s use of statutory emer­gency powers upon a “response to damage caused by an event,” which qualifying language is contained in Sections 718.1265(1), 719.128(1) and 720.316(1), Florida Statutes, of the Condominium Act, Coop­erative Act, and Homeowners’ Association Act, respectively. This qualifying language raised some concern among Florida communities of the appli­cability of the association’s emergency powers in response to damages caused by infectious diseases in lieu of damages more commonly associated with hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters. The Emergency Order affirmatively authorizes the use of an association’s emergency powers under Sections 718.1265(1)(a)-(j), 719.128(1)(a)-(j) and 720.316(1)(a)-(h), Florida Statutes, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the association, owners, family members, tenants, guests, agents, or invitees. Section 718.1265(1)(a)-(j), and the substantially similar language in Chapters 719 and 720, provides the association with the following emergency powers: Continue reading

DBPR Emergency Order 2020-04 Suspending Damage Requirement For Homeowners’ Association Emergency Powers

On March 27, 2020, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) issued Emergen­cy Order 2020-04 in response to the severe outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”).

This Emergency Order suspends one of the precon­ditions on an association’s use of statutory emergen­cy powers upon a “response to damage caused by an event,” which qualifying language is contained in Sections 720.316(1), 718.1265(1) and 719.128(1), Florida Statutes, of the Homeowners’ Association Act, Con­dominium Act and Cooperative Act, respectively. This qualifying language raised some concern among Florida communities of the applicability of the asso­ciation’s emergency powers in response to damages caused by infectious diseases in lieu of damages more commonly associated with hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters. The Emergency Order affirmative­ly authorizes the use of an association’s emergency powers under Sections 720.316(1)(a)-(h), 718.1265(1)(a)-(j) and 719.128(1)(a)-(j), Florida Statutes, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the association, owners, family members, tenants, guests, agents, or invitees. Section 720.316(1)(a)-(h), and the substantially similar language in Chapters 718 and 719, provides the asso­ciation with the following emergency powers: Continue reading