Rhonda Hollander P.A.
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Making Money For Your Client, Cheaply and Effectively

Rhonda Hollander, Esq. 
For General Release

As everyone is fully aware by now, the banks are taking months if not years to foreclose on Association property. THEY HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO RUSH. They are often limited in their exposure to 1% or 12 months of past monthly maintenance pursuant to the safe harbor provisions found in the Florida Statutes.i  Banks do not want to be responsible for the carrying costs of monthly maintenance and overhead of a unit. Banks look to delay the proceedings while they actively search for potential buyers or try to work out arrangements with the unit owners. This leaves the Association waiting and starving.

It was in 2005 when this lawyer realized that unless Association’s took a more active role in their Association business, that there were going to be some rough times ahead. Drastic measures had to be taken by the board and management companies. The time had come where there had to be an on-going business of overseeing rentals to recoup their losses or seek alternate methods of recouping losses.  Years later, Banks are slow in processing their foreclosures as the paperwork and processing of the foreclosures have become tainted. The recent implosion of law firms that have falsified affidavits, complaints, and bank documents has made Banks rethink their position. This has given further rise to more Association delinquencies and losses.  So the slippery slope began. Association Boards and management companies need to think outside the box to keep their Associations in good financial condition. There are many ways to deal with this growing problem and Boards need to consider every alternate option. This however requires a greater understanding of how the system works and its alternatives. Constant communication with your lawyer is needed to make sure that your collection process makes sense.

For years, Association law firms did not instruct clients on alternate methods of collection. It was easier just to take the title for the Association. However, Associations can try to make an income or at a minimum recoup their losses through alternative means. With the recent changes to the Florida Statute Associations can recoup delinquencies from tenants much easier. Associations are also able to target speculators who collect rent on units and pocket the money rather than pay the bank or the association.

Of course, unit owners are always surprised when their tenants receive the first rent demand from the Association. Getting rent from an existing tenant should be the first method of collection as it is the fastest and cheapest way to get the debt paid off to the Association. In fact, many unit owners will offer to pay outstanding balances to avoid any rent collections from their tenants as they fear that the tenants will leave. For the uncooperative owners, this lawyer has found that the tenants often respond and are eager to pay the rent directly to the law firm to satisfy the owner’s outstanding debt. Assuring them that you are not interested in having them stay and maintain a good relationship makes a big difference in your collections. Alternatively, tenants also fear the threat of being forcibly removed through eviction if they fail to comply. By exploring these options, Associations can often minimize legal fees and court costs associated with the foreclosure process.

If rentals are not an option for possible revenue, another option is to have the Court Order that the unit owner pay a reasonable rental for their unit from the time that a Final Judgment is entered until they leave or the Association is paid off. Depending on the backlog of foreclosure sales that exist at the time, this can often result in two or three months of additional rent to pay off the delinquency. Renting can not only provide you with recovery of your losses but an income!

Another alternative is to go after the unit owner for a money judgment similar to any collection for which a debt is owed. After 20 years of collecting for multinational companies, experience has shown this lawyer many alternatives of collection. Associations have options in going after the individuals who may be collectible in ways that are different than renting out units. The key to any successful collection is taking immediate, swift and decisive action on those accounts that begin to go delinquent. Make sure to talk to your attorney about ALL OF THE OPTIONS available and make sure they act quickly once you made a decision. Garnishing wages, bank accounts and taking automobiles are all possible as a creditor with a money judgment.

Adding creativity to any collection action is necessary in these trying times and constantly changing economic environment. I believe increasing the dollar amounts that are coming in daily to add to the coffers of Associations who desperately need the cash is the best way to make the Association whole and avoid the Bank from holding Associations hostage with the permission of the legislature. This can be done quickly and many times at no cost to the Association.


i Exceptions apply

Contact : rhonda@rhpalegal.com

Rhonda Hollander, Esq. has litigated thousands of cases in the Tri-county area and specializes in collections.
She currently represents Associations and corporations in collecting their outstanding debts.

Copyright © Rhonda Hollander, P.A. October 13, 2011.


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Settlement Reached in Suit of UW Art Professor Handcuffed and Detained for Taking Photos  


A University of Washington professor who was frisked, handcuffed, and detained for taking photographs of power lines as part of an art project has received a payment of $8,000 in a settlement of her lawsuit against the City of Snohomish. The ACLU of Washington represented Shirley Scheier in seeking redress for her wrongful detention by Snohomish police.

The settlement came after the U.S. District Court in Seattle last year found that officers "lacked a reasonable justification for their aggressive tactics in completely restraining Scheier's personal liberty." Scheier's experience highlights a pattern of law enforcement officers harassing people engaged in taking pictures in public. "Taking photographs of objects or people in plain view is not a crime. Police should not presume that it is a suspicious act, and should not overreact by detaining people for taking pictures," said ACLU-WA Legal Director Sarah Dunne.

Shirley Scheier is a 55-year-old artist and Associate Professor of Fine Art at the University of Washington who often uses photos of public land and public structures in her artistic prints. An exhibit of her work currently is showing at Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill until June 21. In October 2005, Scheier drove to Snohomish and stopped to take pictures of the power towers at a substation near downtown, from outside the facility's gate. She was on public property, and there were no signs indicating that photography was not allowed. As she drove home on State Highway 9, Snohomish police pulled her over. More officers arrived soon, began to question her about her pictures and said her behavior was "suspicious." Scheier explained that she is a university faculty member interested in power lines as part of our ecosystem and cooperated with officers' requests.

Nevertheless, police frisked and handcuffed Scheier, and placed her in the back of a police car for almost half an hour. The incident was upsetting to Scheier, who as a professor was concerned that her students not have their rights violated when they went out to do field work. In rejecting the city's motion for summary judgment which would have ended the case, the federal district court in November 2008 found that the officers' actions had likely violated Scheier's rights. "An individual's fundamental Fourth Amendment right to be free from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures' does not dissipate merely because of generalized, unsubstantiated suspicions of terrorist activity," wrote Judge John Coughenhour. ACLU cooperating attorneys Venkat Balasubramani and Steven Fogg and Christina Dimmock of Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner & Preece LLP represented Scheier.

In 2007 the ACLU obtained compensation from the city of Seattle for Bogdan Mohora, who was wrongfully arrested for taking photographs of police making an arrest in downtown Seattle. Other photographers also have complained to the ACLU about being harassed by law enforcement since 9/11, as a result of misplaced fears of terrorism.

In 2004, the ACLU assisted photography student Ian Spiers, who was questioned by law enforcement for taking pictures at the Ballard Locks, a popular tourist destination.

In 2005, the ACLU assisted a photographer when King County Sheriff's deputies seized the memory card in his camera for taking pictures of artwork in the Seattle bus tunnel.



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Five things you should know about condo elections 

Daniel Vasquez
Sun Sentinel Columnist
7:15 p.m. EST, November 15, 2011
Election season will soon creep up on owners and board members of condominium and homeowners communities across Florida, with many boards hosting elections within in the next several months. Here is what you should know.

Election season will soon creep up on owners and board members of condominium and homeowners communities across Florida, with many boards hosting elections within the next several months.

But before anyone prints ballots or begins notifying owners about candidates, it would be smart for boards and individual owners to brush up on state law and avoid mistakes that jeopardize voting results — whether an election or a board member recall.

For instance, the Pines West of Oakland Forest Condominium Association is working to make sure it properly notifies owners of the 200-plus unit community of upcoming collections. In 2009, the association sent out notices via certified mail, and last year used e-mail notices. "This year we may end up doing both as well as regular mail," said board member Jeffery Morgan."

Florida statutes allow associations to notify owners of upcoming elections by mail, hand-delivery notice or via e-mail when authorized by individual owners and governing documents.

Keeping an eye on the law keeps associations out of trouble, experts say. "At a minimum you want to achieve what is required under Florida statutes and not walk into a legal trap that could mess up your elections," said attorney Matthew Goode, of the South Florida firm Rhonda Hollander, which specializes in community association law.

Here are five things owners and board members should know about elections:

Make sure there are enough candidates. Since last year, Florida statutes do not require condo boards to hold elections when there are more vacancies than candidates. When this happens, or when the two are equal, no election is required and existing board members can remain and/or candidates will automatically become members at the adjournment of the annual meeting.

Maintain voting certificates: Experts recommend that associations keep a record of owners eligible to vote. Condo and HOA laws only allow one vote per unit or home, but owners of multiple properties are allowed a vote per property. Certificates should be used to acknowledge which owner is eligible to vote when there is more than one owner of a unit or home.

Meet deadlines: Know the deadlines for filing notices of intention to run and mailing notices, information sheets and ballots. If either a condo or HOA association fails to meet deadlines, results could be voided by the state via an owner petition to the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes.

Records maintenance: Florida statutes require condo and HOA associations to maintain election documents for at least one year. Governing documents could require a longer period. Voting records include ballots, sign-in sheets and voting proxies.

Report problems: If you have any concerns regarding whether or not your election is being conducted properly, call the Division of Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes at 850-488-1122, visit myfloridalicense.com or write to: 1940 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399.

dvasquez@tribune.com, 954-356-4219 or 561-243-6686.

REFERENCE: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-election-season-condocol-20111115,0,4087504.column

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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Taking Pictures in Public: Know Your Rights

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. Learn more >>

  • When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.
  • When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).
  • Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).
  • Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
  • Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.
  • Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.

REFERENCE: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers


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