Florida District Court of Appeals decision (November 14, 2014).
This case involved an appeal by an absentee homeowner of a lower courts default judgment allowing the homeowners HOA to foreclose its lien for unpaid maintenance assessments and sell the homeowners property. After unsuccessful attempts to serve the homeowner with the foreclosure complaint at the address of the subject property, the HOA sought and obtained an order allowing it to serve the homeowner by publication. When the homeowner did not respond to the complaint following service by publication, the court awarded the HOA a judgment for foreclosure and the property was sold. The homeowner then learned about the foreclosure sale that had taken place from a neighbor that periodically checked on the property for the homeowner. The neighbor discovered that the locks had been changed and all of the furnishings had been removed.
After learning of the foreclosure sale, the homeowner appealed contending that the default judgment for foreclosure was void because the HOAs service of the complaint by publication was defective. The appellate court agreed with the homeowner In ruling that the HOAs search for another address at which to server the homeowner was insufficient. The court further found that the affidavit submitted by the HOA to support its application for service by publication was patently inaccurate in that it failed to disclose the HOAs awareness of another address for the homeowner that the HOA had in its records. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the lower courts decision and ruled that the HOAs foreclosure sale was void.
See case decision: Martins_v._Oaks_Master_Prop