Property acquired by tax deed extinguishes old condominium assessments and liens, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday.
The ruling brings the Fourth District in line with similar recent rulings by the Second and Fifth districts and a similar question raised in a foreclosure case decided by the Third District Court of Appeal.
In 2010, A To Z Properties Inc. bought a condo unit at a tax sale for $21,100 and sold it two weeks later to Rafael Charre-Sanchez for $30,000.
Fairway Palms II Condominium Association was owed $16,291 in unpaid assessments by the previous owner. After the sale to Sanchez, the association recorded a claim and later sued both A To Z and Sanchez for the unpaid fees.
Martin Circuit Judge Lawrence Mirman ruled in favor of the association, finding A To Z liable for the entire $16,291.
Fourth District Judge Carole Taylor noted a contradiction in two state laws. One stated covenants governing unpaid assessments and liens don’t survive the issuance of a tax deed.
A separate law states a unit owner, regardless of how title is acquired, is liable for a previous owner’s unpaid assessments.
“When two statutes embrace the same subject and produce contradictory results, we are compelled to construe the statutes so that the specific statute is given effect and the general statute is given effect only to the extent that it does not contradict with the specific statute,” Taylor said.
In A To Z’s case, the unpaid liens incurred by the previous owner are recoverable by the association if the title is transferred but not if the title is created by a tax deed, which constitutes a “new, original and paramount title,” the opinion stated.
Fourth District Judges Dorian Damoorgian and Spencer Levine concurred.