The Coronavirus and Collecting Assessments

While the full impact of the coronavirus remains unknown, experts predict
that the nation’s unemployment rate could hit 20-25 percent, or even more.
Clearly, this crisis will impact many people’s ability to make monthly
payments above and beyond the necessities. Will the impact be as great as
the collapse of the housing bubble and the Great Recession of 2007-2009?
It’s hard to know, but your association should start planning for the worst.

First, the Board should evaluate its spending and current budget
projections. It may be prudent to delay non-essential projects and expenses
for the time being, as the Board assesses the ongoing impact of the crisis.
Tightening the purse strings now can avoid or ease greater pain in the
future.

Second, if the Board does not have a written collections policy, it should
put one together now. Part of a sensible collections policy will be
provisions that states that the Board will evaluate delinquencies on a
case-by-case basis and that the Board can waive late fees and interest in
cases of personal hardship. The Board has other tools such as rent
intercepts, suspension of amenity or voting right, etc. that perhaps the
Board has not had reason to use in the last several years but may now have
to be employed again. The Board’s aim should always be to keep collecting
current assessments.

Third, if delinquencies become so severe that the Board needs to levy a
special assessment or borrow money to make up any operating budget
shortfall, the Board has the power to do so under its emergency powers (see
Sections 718.1265(l) and(m) and 720.316(l) and (m), Florida Stats.).

At the very least, the Board or its Finance Committee should discuss the
above and make what plans it deems necessary under the circumstances.

Continue to consult the following websites for further information during
this crisis:

  1. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center:
    https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
  2. The CDC Coronavirus Resource Page:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  3. The Florida Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Response
    (COVID-19): https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/

As always, call (941)203-6075 or email me with any questions. My best wishes
to you and your communities. Stay safe!

Scott Petersen