Florida: Couple May Lose Home for Refusing to Pay Association’s $25 Late Fee

Ventura Greens townhouse owner David Silva could lose his home for refusing to pay a $25 late fee he blames on his homeowners association. (Tony Doris / The Palm Beach Post)

Florida: Couple May Lose Home for Refusing to Pay Association’s $25 Late Fee

Foreclosure trial concludes in case of West Palm Beach townhouse owner who faces losing home over $25 late fee

What started with a $25 late fee three years ago for townhouse owner David Silva has grown to a foreclosure fight over a $47,554 bill that had Silva in court two days this week, fending off an effort by his property association to take away his $340,000 home.

His fate rests with Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Robert Panse, who on Monday and Tuesday heard arguments at the south county courthouse that pitted calls for common sense against bad blood and condo enforcement.

Silva has been a resident of Ventura Greens at Emerald Dunes, off Okeechobee Boulevard and Jog Road just west of Florida’s Turnpike, since 2007 and is a former member of the 70-unit community’s board. He regularly made online payments of the monthly maintenance fee for his three-bedroom, 2½-bath townhouse. But unknown to him, he said the complex changed property managers in June 2014 and his payment never went to the association.

The association has been through at least eight management companies in its 11 years. A few managers sent the association letters saying they were quitting because of the difficulty of working with Vic Bally, who is the association president.

By the time Silva learned of the latest change and paid the new property manager, the association charged him a $25 late fee. While he disputed the fee, the association, led by arch-enemy Bally — both sides testified to the animus between the men — tacked on more late fees, attorney fees, costs, collection charges and interest charges. In 2015, the association filed to foreclose.

Silva and his common-law wife, Tracey Monahan, contended that they always paid their association dues but were on vacation for a week that June and didn’t learn until weeks afterward that his online payment hadn’t gone through or been forwarded.

“This case would not be here if there was any exercise of common sense,” Silva’s attorney Richard Glenn said in summation Tuesday. This is all about late fees “and this is all their fault,” he said, accusing the association of negligence. “It’s a $25 case that’s snowballed into something that’s insane.”

Jeanette Bellon, lead attorney for Ventura Greens, asserted that Silva was notified of the management change and that there was no evidence he sent a payment to the old address. “Bank statements don’t lie — people do,” she said. “They ignored the notices. … There was no error by the association.”

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2 Responses to “Florida: Couple May Lose Home for Refusing to Pay Association’s $25 Late Fee”
  1. Kathleen Burt says:

    Several homeowners we know who moved to FL from out-of-state have made the same mistake, thinking there’s time for an appeal, time to get the bank statement proving the payment was sent. This was likely true in the state where they used to live, but not here. FL law allows the late fee to be subtracted from the next month’s HOA, leaving the owner $25 short then and the following month, too. After 60 days, an attorney for the board is automatically sent the statement that the owner is 60 days in arrears and a lien will be placed on the property. The owner’s credit is immediately affected because of the lien, as is the house or condo. If you are new to FL, it’s best to pay the later fee immediately and get a receipt for it from the office. Pay it separately from the HOA because in case there’s a dispute later, the receipt will help. And by all means, don’t take a chance on adding attorney’s fees to the late charge–if the firm sends the owner a letter, they’ve already started accruing. When your bank eventually sends the record that you paid the late fee, you can take the receipt to the board and get your refund.

  2. Bobbi Swann says:

    Honestly we have to either get rid of these Condo Associations or at least amend the laws for the powers they now hold! It’s like communism with these associations. Ridiculous that this has gone this far! I hope this Judge rips the Plaintiff’s apart and dismisses this whole thing but I may be asking too much considering the history of south Florida courts.

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