Is your association complying with the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act? Why associations can no longer ignore fair debt laws.
Historically, the originator of a debt was not considered a debt collector under any federal or state law for purposes of either the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) or the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”). That all changed, though, with the decision in Morgan v. Wilkins, 74 So.3d 179 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). In that case, a law firm attempted to sue a former client for failing to pay legal fees. The former client counter sued for violation of the FCCPA. The trial court dismissed the former client’s claim on the basis that the law firm was not a debt collector. However, on appeal, the First District Court of Florida decided that the language of the FCCPA had evolved to the point that it now includes any entity to which a debt is owed. In other words, if someone incurs a debt to someone else, the person to whom that debt is owed may now have to comply with FCCPA when trying to collect that obligation.
What does this mean for associations? What about management companies? It could mean that your own practices in collecting assessments now must comply with the at least the FCCPA, if not its federal counterpart. For more information on how to comply with these requirements, contact your association’s attorney or use our “contact” form to inquire about how you can become a client of Community Association Law Group.