Florida Court Expands Debt Collection Law to Assessments

A Florida Court of Appeals has rejected its own holding from more than 20 years ago, and the change isn’t good news for community associations and their managers. The court concluded that association assessments are consumer debts under the state law that imposes restrictions on debt collection practices — and therefore allowed a class action against an association and manager that published a so-called “deadbeat” list.

The Salt Springs Resort Association and its manager publicly posted a list of more than 100 condominium owners who allegedly owed the association money for assessments, along with the amounts owned.

One of the owners whose name appeared on the list filed a class action against the association and the manager. She claimed they violated the provision of the FCCPA that prohibits the public posting of deadbeat lists to enforce or collect a “consumer debt.”

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit based on Bryan v. Clayton (Fla. App. 1997). In that case, the same Court of Appeals that reviewed this case held that assessments don’t constitute “debt” for purposes of the FCCPA or the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In doing so, it adopted the view of federal district courts at the time.

To learn why the court had a different take this time around, and what it means for you and your clients, read our new article, “Deadbeat” List Lands Association in Class Action Lawsuit.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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