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Beacon Hill Homeowners Association Inc. v. Colfin Ah-Florida 7, LLC

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

May 24, 2017

Beacon Hill Homeowners Association, Inc., et al., Appellants,
v.
Colfin Ah-Florida 7, LLC, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 15-21095, Jacqueline Hogan Scola, Judge.

          Paige Law Group, P.A., and Robert E. Paige, for appellants.

          Law Offices of Jonathan J. Alfonso, P.A, Jonathan J. Alfonso and Carolina Maria Dutriz, for appellee.

          Before ROTHENBERG, SALTER and FERNANDEZ, JJ.

          FERNANDEZ, J.

         Beacon Hill Homeowners Association, Inc. and Old Cutler Lakes by the Bay Community Association, Inc. (collectively, the Associations) appeal the trial court's summary final judgment in favor of Colfin Ah-Florida 7, LLC, as well as the respective parties' motions for rehearing or reconsideration. We affirm, adopting the Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision in Pudlit 2 Joint Venture, LLP v. Westwood Gardens Homeowners Association, Inc., 169 So.3d 145 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).

         On October 24, 2011, JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association filed a foreclosure action in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court against a property owner. On February 10, 2015, the Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Court issued the Certificate of Title to appellee, Colfin AH-Florida 7, LLC, who was the successful bidder of the underlying property at the foreclosure sale. Pursuant to the recorded declarations of each associations, Colfin was not liable for any amounts owed by the previous owners of the property.

For example, Beacon Hill's Declaration provided:
Section 9. SUBORDINATION OF THE LIEN TO MORTGAGES. The lien of the assessments provided for herein shall be a lien superior to all other liens save and except tax liens and mortgage liens, provided said mortgage liens are first liens against the property encumbered thereby, subject only to tax liens, and said first mortgage secures an indebtedness which is amortized on monthly or quarter-annual payments over a period of not less than ten (10) years. The sale or transfer of any Lot pursuant to the foreclosure or any proceeding in lieu thereof of a first mortgage meeting the above qualifications, shall extinguish the lien of such assessments as to payments which became due prior to such sale or transfer. No sale or transfer shall relieve such Lot from liability for any assessments thereafter becoming due or from the lien thereof.

         Old Cutler's Declaration stated:

         Section 10: Subordination of the Lien to Mortgages. The lien of the assessments provided for herein shall be a lien superior to all other liens save and except tax liens and mortgage liens, provided said mortgage liens are first liens against the property encumbered thereby, subject only to tax liens, and said first mortgage secures an indebtedness which is amortized on monthly or quarter-annual payments over a period of not less than ten (10) years. The sale or transfer of any Lot pursuant to the foreclosure or any proceeding in lieu thereof of a first mortgage meeting the above qualifications, shall extinguish the lien of such assessments as to payments which became due prior to such sale or transfer. No sale or transfer shall relieve such Lot from liability for any assessments thereafter becoming due or from the lien thereof.

         In May 2015, Colfin received a claim of lien letter from each association. The first letter claimed Colfin owed $7, 463.25 to Beacon Hill for $1, 268.25 in assessments, $6, 025.00 in attorney's fees, and $170.00 in costs. The second lien letter claimed Colfin owed $8, 072.40 to Old Cutler for $1, 998.40 in assessments, $6, 024.00 in attorney's fees, and $50.00 in costs. Colfin filed a complaint to quiet title and for a declaratory judgment, contending that the Declaration prohibited collection of the amounts the Associations claimed were owed.

         The trial court held a hearing on Colfin's Motion for Summary Judgment. Colfin contended that the Declarations prohibited the collection of the amounts the Associations claimed were owed. The Associations argued that language in the Declarations allowing the Associations to exercise any powers afforded to a corporation amounted to what is referred to as "Kaufman" language, referencing Kaufman v. Shere, 347 So.2d 627 (Fla. 3DCA 1977). The Associations further argued that their Declarations incorporated future changes in the law, and thus the joint and several liability provision of section 720.3085(2)(b) Florida Statutes (2016) was incorporated into the terms of their Declarations.[1] At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court ruled in favor of Colfin, ...


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