Steps to Recovering Your HOA and Condo Estoppel Fees
1. Meet the Timeframes and Follow the Rules:
a. Advise the association or management company of the anticipated closing date when you request the estoppels. Don’t fudge this in hopes of getting the estoppel information earlier (it will count against you later).
b. You must request your refund, in writing, and that request must be actually received by the management company within 30 days of the closing date for which the certificate was sought [You don’t measure from a rescheduled closing date]. A letter in substantially the form of this should be sent by fax and certified mail, return receipt requested. Add the fax confirmation and return receipt to your closing file.
c. Calendar follow-ups for 20, 35 and 40 days.
d. The association or management company has 30 days after receipt of your letter to make payment. Calendar it for 20 days and follow up with a courtesy call inquiring about the status of your repayment. Be firm, but don’t be argumentative. Take detailed notes on any promises of payment or any reasons given why they will not make the requested repayment. It is especially important to document if they indicate that they routinely refuse to give this type of refund. Type up your notes as a memo to the file while it is fresh in your mind.
e. 35 days after the initial request (this allows 5 days for delays in mailing) – and assuming they did not refuse payment in the first call -- make a second call and again document the conversation, type it up and add to your file.
f. After 40 days, send a follow-up demand letter in substantially the form of this if they indicated they wouldn’t pay or this if they indicated they would pay. This can be sent by fax or regular mail. If sent by fax, print and file the fax confirmation.
2. Select An Attorney. There are many good attorneys in Florida who can assist you with recovering your estoppel fees. We have made arrangements with two law firms (one in South Florida, one in the Tampa Bay area who have agreed to represent FLTA members in recovering properly noticed HOA and Condo estoppels fees on a contingent fee basis and to WAIVE their normal retainer. Here are links to their websites, so you can decide if they are a good fit for your legal needs: Redding & Associates, Tampa Walton Jones + Browne, Miami
3. Gather and Submit your Information. While your attorney will undoubtedly have other questions and may need additional information as your case progresses, submitting the following in your first batch of information to whatever attorney you have chosen, will likely speed the process:
a. Complete this information sheet.
b. Copy of your initial request for the estoppel letter.
c. Copy of front and back of your check paying the estoppel fee
d. Copy of the first refund request, including the clerk’s printout showing that the property didn’t close.
e. Copy of the certified mail confirmation and fax printout from the initial request
f. Copy of memorandum to file regarding any phone calls
g. Copy of follow-up letter with fax printout.
If you have selected one of the attorneys with whom FLTA has arranged a waiver of retainer fees, here are the e-mail links:
John Redding: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Walton: Ken@WJBLegal.com