Community Associations

General Counsel

Whether you are a condominium, cooperative, homeowners’ association or mobile home park, you need an experienced lawyer to guide your Board through the morass of questions that confront it. Unlike many attorneys who advise community associations, Scott has an extensive background in litigating disputes between the association and owners, employees, dissident Board members, vendors and other associated associations, whether they are master or sub-associations. His experience and ability in litigating disputes allows him to advise his association clients as to what works in the real world and to give sound, practical advice on the conduct of meetings, the drafting, amendment, interpretation and enforcement of the governing documents, and drafting and negotiating contracts with its employees, management companies and vendors. Scott knows that the way to avoid the time and expense of litigation is to anticipate and solve issues long before they develop into a lawsuit. Moreover, the philosophy of the Firm is to work collaboratively with Boards and Community Association Managers in order to solve problems. Clients are people, not “billing opportunities.” The Firm works with community associations with creative alternative billing practices, such as flat fees and retainers, to provide legal services in a manner in which the Board or its manager are not afraid to call the attorney and “run up the bill.”

Collections and Lien Foreclosures

Assessments are the lifeblood of the association and the Board has a fiduciary duty to its members to collect assessments. In the aftermath of the collapse of the housing bubble and the Great Recession, the issues of collection of past due assessments have only become more complex and vexing. Changes in federal and Florida law are frequent and sometimes unexpected. Your association needs a lawyer well-versed in these issues to advise the Board on its best course of action and to ensure that the association gets all that it is entitled to under the law. Scott advises Boards on how to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act; what to do when an owner files Bankruptcy; how to issue and enforce rent demands; the use of receiverships and “blanket” receiverships where appropriate; how to handle set-offs, affirmative defenses and counterclaims; and a host of other issues that owners use in an attempt to stop collection efforts of the association.

Bank Foreclosures

Along with collecting past due assessments, Scott advises associations on how to answer, defend and assert claims in a bank’s mortgage foreclosure case against an owner. Both the Florida Legislature and Florida courts have changed state laws in response to the crisis brought on by the collapse of the housing bubble, and not always for the better where community associations are concerned. Scott has been a tireless advocate for the rights of community associations against the foot-dragging, incompetence and falsehoods of banks in their mortgage foreclosure cases. The Firm offers alternate billing methods such as flat fees and retainers to ensure that the association’s rights are protected in a cost-effective, practical manner.

Covenant Enforcement and Deed Restrictions

One of the more vexing duties of a Board of Directors is how to best enforce the governing documents without breaking the bank. The Board has a duty to enforce the governing documents, but has to balance that duty against its duty to protect the financial interests of the association. Scott’s experience in working with Boards and their Community Association Manager to enforce the restrictions in the governing documents in a fair, even-handed and common sense manner can make the difference for your association. A graduated enforcement approach can solve many of these issues before they turn into expensive, time-consuming and stressful lawsuits. But, where there is no other option, Scott’s demonstrated ability as a litigator ensures that the association’s rights will be strongly represented and fiercely protected.

 

Litigation

Scott began his career as a trial attorney and with more than 60 jury trials in his first 5 years of practice, he has more actual courtroom experience than most lawyers get in a lifetime. But “litigation” encompasses more than just trial experience. Every dispute presents opportunities and challenges for the parties involved and it takes a lawyer with Scott’s real-world experience to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges. From presuit negotiations, to mediation and arbitration, through filing or defending the lawsuit, Scott advises his clients on how to resolve the dispute in the most advantageous and cost-effective manner. The Firm offers a number of alternatives to hourly billing, such as flat fees, retainer and contingency fees where appropriate to help ensure that the cost of litigation doesn’t add to the client’s problems. Scott assists clients in a wide-variety of litigation matters, including:

Business Litigation

As a Board Certified Business Litigation attorney, Scott is considered an expert in commercial litigation matters. Less than 7 percent of Florida’s lawyers are Board Certified specialists, but Scott is one of them. Scott assists clients in negotiating, drafting or resolving disputes over contracts, dealing with troublesome vendors or employees, addressing injuries to or damages suffered by your business or advising clients on a multitude of other disputes that arise between their business and individuals or other businesses.

Real Estate Litigation

Scott litigates all aspects of real estate disputes through mediation, administrative hearings, litigation, arbitration, trial, and appeal, including disputes regarding

  • Brokers, their licenses, malpractice and commissions
  • Easements
  • Eminent domain
  • Foreclosure
  • Purchase and sale contract disputes and failures to disclose
  • Commercial and residential lease and real estate contracts

Probate Litigation

A probate court identifies the assets of the deceased, decides on the payment of taxes, expenses, and debts and distributes property to the heirs according to the deceased’s will. Disputes over the distribution of assets of an estate can be emotionally draining and threaten relationships between siblings, spouses and other relatives. Scott advises clients with an emphasis on resolving disputes in a calm and sensitive manner on issues such as:

  • The failure of a personal representative to provide an inventory of the property
  • Claims of undue influence
  • Guardianships and conservatorships
  • Breaches of fiduciary duties
  • Claims of creditors
  • Disputes as to who will act as personal representative of the estate