Condo association fees help pay for the upkeep of community spaces and siding/roofing. The list of services can vary widely and include everything from the doorman’s salary to pool maintenance, security and landscaping. With everyone’s money pooled together, the condo association can effectively maintain the property.
When someone doesn’t pay their fees, however, it can hamstring the condo association from taking care of the community. Removing someone from the facility over failure to pay their condo association fees may be worked into an owner’s contract, but eventual eviction doesn’t help make up for the months of failure to pay condo fees (especially if there are several open units in the building). So how should a condo association collect the delinquent fees?
How to collect delinquent condo association fees
The condo association needs to move quickly on past due/unpaid fees. It is in the best interest of the condo association to put very strict language regarding fees into any contract. This way, the individual moving into the building knows what legal actions the condo can take should they fail to make these payments. The condo association should contact the tenant/owner by mail within 20 days past due asking for payment. If payment is not received by 30 days past due then action should be taken. Note that evicting a tenant usually isn’t the more desirable action as it completely removes a source of income for the condo association. Placing a lien on the title of the condo owner may prove all that is necessary. This way if the owner is eventually forced to/chooses to sell, the money goes to the condo association until the debt is paid.
If someone fails to pay their condo association fees, restricting rights to the facilities should be the first step. This is a relatively simple form of punishment that may motivate the owner to pay. Examples of community resources include tennis courts, pools, the gym or even common areas such as parks.
Consider a payment plan
People can fall on hard times; it happens to most people at one point or another. Should the condo association member explain the situation they are in, it may be in everyone’s best interest to set up a payment plan. The delinquent amount may be spread out into smaller payments over the course of a year to help ease the burden on the debt repayment.
Garnish wages or consider small claims court
Depending on the location of the community, it may be possible for the condo association to garnish wages from the property owner’s bank account. This way, all unpaid fees are removed from a person’s income. Taking the individual to small claims court may work but can be costly and time consuming and there is no guarantee that it will work.
Consult an attorney or collection agency
Once an account is considered delinquent, a condo association may wish to contact the condo association’s attorney. The attorney will go over the bylaws set forward by the association and help determine the best course of action. Understand that legal fees for drawing up appropriate documentation and notices may cost several hundred dollars while directly suing the account holder may end up costing thousands of dollars. If the amount of the debt is relatively small then it may be more prudent to hire a reputable collection agency.
Son-Rise Property Management is a full service property management company located in Bellingham, WA. Contact us today to see how we can help you find the perfect home to rent or manage your property.