The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column was authored by shareholder Lisa A. Lerner and appears in today’s edition of the newspaper. The article, which is titled “Need Some Assistance? Miami-Dade Offers Owners Financial Help for Condo Structural Repairs,” focuses on Miami-Dade County’s Condominium Special Assessment Program, which can offer a financial lifeline for qualifying unit owners who otherwise would not be able to afford special assessments from their condominium association for necessary repairs. Her article reads:
. . . The county program was specifically designed to provide essential financing assistance for eligible owners of condominiums in Miami-Dade who are facing one-time special assessments from their association for requirements stemming from their building integrity recertification. It offers payments as low as $50 per month with zero interest for 40 years.
Eligibility for the program is based on annual income, and those who are below 140 percent of the area median income qualify. That equates to individuals earning less than $95,620, couples earning less than $109,200, three-person households earning less than $122,920, and households of four earning less than $136,500.
The financial assistance provided through Miami-Dade County’s Condominium Special Assessment Program comes in the form of a loan that complies with the Miami-Dade County Documentary Surtax Program, which offers affordable housing assistance to thousands of low- and moderate-income county residents. The terms are designed to support local condominium owners in the preservation of their buildings, and it will be available for special assessments addressing physical damage to buildings representing owners’ primary homestead residence.
The loans, which are capped at up to $50,000, have a repayment term of 40 years, with monthly payments set as low as $50 with zero interest for qualifying low- and moderate-income applicants who are up-to-date on their mortgage and association dues. Those with any cash assets exceeding $50,000 must use their own funds for down payments of up to 10 percent of the loan amount. In addition, the remaining balance on the loan becomes due and payable if owners sell or refinance their property, or if they cease to use it as their primary residence. It also becomes due in full upon the death of an owner, unless ownership passes to heirs who meet the specified criteria.
For condominium associations, the payments for their owners’ special assessments will be payable directly from the county. They will be required to submit their annual budget and a questionnaire, including a description of the work and its scope, followed by semi-annual reports.
Given the significance of the assistance that is being offered and the desperate need of some of the condominium owners in the county facing substantial assessments for sorely needed structural improvements, condominium associations should embrace this program and refer their owners to it. Indeed, news and information on this program and its benefits should be prominently featured at the contentious meetings focusing on special assessments that are now or will soon be taking place at condominium associations in the county. . .
Lisa concludes her column by suggesting that associations and their boards of directors in Miami-Dade should refer owners to this program as an important part of their efforts to support and provide them with helpful guidance. She notes that unless the U.S. Congress passes the legislative proposals it is now considering for financing help for such condominium assessments for owners as well as associations, this program may be the only recourse for Miami-Dade condo owners who would otherwise find the increased monthly association dues to be financially devastating. She encourages those who are interested in learning more or applying to visit www.tinyurl.com/4y8vjsdh or call 786-469-2209.
Our firm salutes Lisa for sharing her insights and suggestions regarding this important loan program for Miami-Dade condominium owners with the readers of the Miami Herald.