Why did we take a condominium association to court over an estoppel fee?
Maybe you saw it in the Legal Description, but we have had a big win over here at PropLogix. Back in December, we filed a suit against a Kissimmee condominium association, Villas of Emerald Lake Condominium Association, Inc., because they owed us $250 for an estoppel on a deal that never closed.
Per Sections 718.116(8)(d) and 720.30851(3), Florida Statutes, Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations are required to reimburse expenses related to an estoppel if a deal doesn't close. It's the law and a lot of associations have no idea that they have to abide by it.
You may think, $250?! That's doesn't sound like an amount to pick a battle over, but here is why we did it: To take a stand for the hardworking people in the title industry like yourself.
Because the association never showed up in court, a default judgment was granted to us for the original estoppel fee and all our legal fees. What started as $250, turned into us recovering $3,294.00, which includes court costs and legal fees.
There are a lot of reasons the association may not have shown up, but it's likely that they didn't really have a leg to stand on. It's important that we stand up to associations when they refuse to follow the law and refund estoppel fees, because it affects everyone in this industry. We see this as a pretty big win.
Like most of you, we're dealing with hundreds of associations at a time and it's not an easy job. These associations can be disorganized, poorly managed, charge exorbitant fees for preparation and even higher fees for rushed results, but the law is what it is.
Our hope is that other associations will see this action and know that we're serious about holding them accountable. I also hope that our clients will see this and know that we're willing to do whatever it takes to protect them and their clients.
Our owner, Jesse Biter, spoke to the editor at the Legal Description and this is how he summed up the results of the case:
“We did this not only to get our $250 back, but also to go to battle for the title agents,” Biter stated. “We won and we got a judgment for our attorney’s fees. So a $250 check that they refused to write turned into a $4,000 settlement. It’s a victory for us and Florida title agents, so that is pretty exciting.”