SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A Seminole County man accused of burning down his condo as “revenge” against his homeowners’ association owed nearly $29,000 in unpaid dues and other costs to the HOA, court records show.
Marc Lane Hermann, 53, was arrested Monday on four counts of arson after the state fire marshal concluded he intentionally set fire to his condo on Jan. 14.
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Just four days before the fire, a Seminole County circuit court judge denied Hermann’s request to reverse a foreclosure action on the condo, which Hermann owned for 25 years.
Hermann’s condo was recently sold at auction, but the title was not transferred to the winning bidder at the time of the fire, county records indicate.
The Crown Oaks #2 homeowners’ association filed a lien against Hermann’s property in 2017 claiming Hermann owed three months of unpaid assessments to the HOA totaling $1,432.
One year later, the HOA filed an action to foreclose on Hermann’s condo after his debt had reportedly grown to $4,780.
Under Florida law and the state’s Constitution, an HOA can foreclose on a property and force the sale of a home to collect unpaid assessments.
A process server hired by the HOA attempted to serve the lawsuit on Hermann 11 times in January and February 2019 but was unable to locate him at the condo, court records show.
By then, the HOA claimed Hermann owed $15,546 in unpaid assessments, late charges, and attorney fees.
“[Hermann] is believed to avoiding service,” the process server wrote in an affidavit.
An attorney representing Hermann later stated in court papers that his law firm had been in contact with the HOA’s attorneys since 2017. Hermann’s lawyer said he had previously instructed the HOA to send all correspondence about the dispute to his law firm rather than to Hermann directly.
In March 2022, after Hermann retained a new lawyer, the parties met with a mediator and reached a settlement, court records show.
Under that settlement, Hermann agreed to a consent judgment against him in the amount of $28,831.
Hermann’s condo would be sold if he failed to pay the debt within 90 days, the agreement stated.
Two months after signing the settlement, Hermann asked a judge to set aside the agreement, claiming “newly discovered evidence” indicated there was “misrepresentation” on the HOA’s part about how much money he owed.
Hermann’s lawyer cited an updated lien document the HOA filed with the Clerk of Court indicating
Hermann owed assessments for future months that had not yet occurred.
Hermann later submitted an affidavit insisting that he had fully paid his HOA dues.
“My HOA fees have been paid monthly since 2014 by automatic ACH wire bank draft withdrawal for years, and I owe the plaintiff nothing,” Hermann wrote. “The Plaintiff’s accounting made multiple mistakes, and they did not credit my payments that I made direct wire to their bank account.”
Hermann attached copies of bank statements that he claimed were proof that he had paid his monthly HOA dues.
Around the same time Hermann was claiming he owed nothing to the HOA, Hermann’s lawyer filed court papers suggesting his client was preparing to pay off the debt.
“[Hermann] has made multiple improper attempts to stop this property from going to sale,” the HOA’s attorney wrote in response. “To date, the Defendant has not paid the Judgment amount by any payment method. As such, the sale should go forward as noticed.”
The judge did not rule on Hermann’s request to stop the sale of his condo.
On July 26, court records show Hermann’s condo was sold at auction to a real estate investor for $82,000.
Less than two weeks later, Hermann filed court papers objecting to the auction and asking the judge to vacate the sale of his condo.
“Prior to the sale of the property, Defendant attempted to reach out to Plaintiff to exercise his statutory right of redemption but was sent back a payoff that had an additional approximate $7,000 in charges with no explanation,” Hermann’s attorney wrote.
“There was no mistake, accident, surprise, fraud, misconduct or irregularity involved with this foreclosure sale,” the HOA’s attorney responded. “Plaintiff never received any funds from Defendant to pay the Judgment amount.”
As the parties awaited a court hearing, the real estate investment company that purchased the property at auction indicated it would be willing to back out of the sale.
“Third Party Purchaser has no objection to setting aside the sale provided the funds paid to the clerk by the Third Party Purchaser are returned and the Defendant reimburses the Third Party Purchaser and funds paid to the clerk that are not returned,” an attorney for winning bidder wrote.
By October 2022, court records indicate Hermann was in contact with a company that provides funding to homeowners facing foreclosure.
During a Jan. 10 hearing at the Seminole County courthouse, Circuit Court Judge Dawn Fields denied Hermann’s request to vacate the sale of his condo and ordered the Clerk of Court to issue the title to the winning bidder.
Four days later, firefighters responded to a blaze engulfing Hermann’s home.
Witnesses described smelling gasoline shortly before a large explosion rocked the 8-unit condo building.
A paramedic who treated Hermann for injuries told investigators that Hermann admitted to shooting himself in the neck after igniting the fire.
“[Hermann] started the fire in an act of revenge against the homeowners’ association in charge of his property,” the paramedic wrote in a sworn statement.
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