Effective June 1, 2010, the Florida Condominium Act (the “Act”) was amended to provide that if a unit is occupied by a tenant, and the unit owner is delinquent in paying monthly assessments, the condominium association may make a demand that the tenant pays future assessments directly to the association.  The Act further provides that the association may evict a tenant who does not comply with the demand to pay future assessments to the association.

This amendment brings up some interesting questions.  On one front, it makes sense for the tenant to pay the future assessments since the tenant is the one who is most likely benefiting from the services provided by the association.  This also gives the association the power to take recourse against the tenant if he or she fails to pay future assessments, such as revoking parking or pool privileges or evicting the tenant.  The association would then still be able to seek the prior balance from the owner without disturbing the tenant’s occupancy.

On the other hand, the amendment puts the tenant in a sticky situation with the owner.  The tenant would be forced to confront the owner about the owner’s failure to pay and the tenant’s obligation to pay the assessments.  If the tenant tells the owner that he or she will deduct the amount of the assessments paid from the next month’s rent check, would this put the tenant in default of the lease and allow the owner to move forward with eviction?

The concept of the Act is good in theory, but leads to too many ambiguities which may result in the tenant being caught in the crossfire of a dispute which some argue should stay between the owner and the association.  Before the Act, the owner’s relationship was with the association and the tenant’s relationship was with the owner.  But in these difficult financial times, the Act brings novel relief to struggling condominium associations.  However the Act blurs these lines of such relationships and might lead to nothing but headaches for all parties involved.

This amendment is another example of how the associations need to be creative and try all avenues when attempting to collect assessments in the face of these tough economic times.