Our THREE unit association has been dealing with a with abusive and destructive owner for the last year and a half. She has not paid a condo fee or assessment in over 15 months. She moves snow in the driveway after it has been plowed and we have to pay again have it replowed (we and the other owner do not live there). She went as far as to build a snowman in the driveway. Guess what, she can get away with it. We have tried to get into court but her lawyer manages to skirt issues and ask for extensions. She was to be in court the second week of July, her lawyer said she was having hip surgery and had to postpone. We saw her drive up and walk into her condo that day and many days after that. Basically she lied to the court does exactly what she wants with no penalty from the law. We have come to the conclusion that placing fines or assessments on her us useless. We ill spend more in legal fees than what we would get in return.
I think all of us on Boards are dealing with the same problem.
About all you can do if make sure a lien is filed on the unit so at least you can recover six months dues and wait for, or hurry along the foreclosure. Washington is a non-judicial foreclosure state, so get your attorney on it to see what he can do. It may not be as hopeless as you fear.
Of course, not paying dues has nothing to do with rule violations so treat them as a separate matter and keep enforcing the rule, even if she doesn't comply. It sets an example for other owners.
Most Boards don't want to rack up attorney's fees on a losing proposition, which is why many delinquent owners are getting away with not paying their fair share. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do it. Good luck!
I agree w Jim..sometimes the only thing you can do is set the example that you are no nonsense. Make sure the lien is there. True, you can leak legal fees big time on chasing scofflaws. But you have go on record of doing your duty as a Board to hold the line, even if nothing comes of it. On the extreme end, following your state HOA/Condo laws, you can go through the motions of foreclosure, and should that happen (it takes time) you can rent and or sell the unit to recoup costs. Very expensive to do legal fee wise and if there is a mortgage there is always the chance the bank takes the property back before you recoup losses (if they've defaulted there also). Less extreme (we've had luck with this) is take them to small claims court. I've heard others say this is not the best as some judges always side with the perpetrator, but it has been effective for us. I'm prez of a Florida HOA (200 units) and we've seen it all since 2008. Trainwrecked industry.
We are a 40 unit, 5 building assn in Missouri. We have several units for sale and people want to rent because they can't sell right now. It's against our rules and we are sticking to it. We also learned the hard way not to be too lenient about back dues. We require them to pay SOMETHING (with a plan in place for repayment) or face a lien after 3 months. Our fees are low, $160/mo due to the involvement of some great volunteers on the Board.
All you can do is fine people and add it to their fees. We have rules that allow us to fine people about not following rules and we also have late fees tacked onto non-payment of monthly fees.
In Massachusetts when a condo unit owner is deliquent with fees or assessments we record a "dirty" 6D certificate at the Registry of Deeds. condo fees constitue a lien against the unit and when the condo goes into foreclosure the title search reflects the lien and a 'cloud' on the title. Isn't this the same in other States?
MA, pretty much the same I would think for all states. Problem is, bad economy plus no real estate market, plus huge amount of foreclosed and abandoned properties = no sales and no resolution to the back assessments, lien or no lien. If the bank took back the property, the state laws tell them how much back assessment they have to pay, in FL it sure doesn't cover much. With so much inventory available, few buyers want to deal getting the lien cleared from a property. We are losing our shirts in our assoc to foreclosed properties.
You would rather lose fees, have owners lose their properties, have vacant shadow property units than allow owners to rent? That is what is wrong with owning a condo.
I can see that we are not the only condo assn. that is battling this problem (owners in arrears with bad attitude). Our board pretty much agrees with Jim. We will continue to enforce the rules with this person and, at the same time, work towards a foreclosure. I just hope the other residents realize that we are not tolerating the rule breaking. Your hands may be tied legally but perhaps playing gosphel or opera music all day long will get to her. What a witch!
Debra; your plight makes me feel better about my plight.
Condo Hater...if I understand your point correctly...condo owners either living in their unit or renting it out still have to pay their fair share for the upkeep of the common property and facilities. The only point being made by others is there are owners who are not paying their dues. Abandoned or shadow properties are bad things but in terms of dollars if the unit is occupied and occupants are using facilities they are not paying for, it is a worse loss. Everybody else who pays on time is picking up the tab for those who don't, that is an injustice to the other owners.
The problem with renters is that bad owners generally mean bad renters. Renters who don't follow the rules anymore than the owners. Most times bad owners collect rent from renters, but, never send it to the assoc.
Owners need to pay their fees. No question about it. However, by stopping owners from renting, boards can drive owners over the edge and if they lose their condos, the fees will not get paid. An owner who needs to move and can not sell has less or no incentive to pay fees. If boards harm owners financially, owners will retaliate by not paying.
That is a very difficult situation. However, I would urge that the fines continue. I would also urge the board to consider starting foreclosure itself. It may be better to either have a vacant unit or one that the Association temporarily owns than to deal with such a person. Another is to have a heart to heart with her - telling her you understand her situation and that you all agree just to live together and leave well enough alone.
I have seen cases where assocaition fees cannot be claimed in a bankruptcy or attorneys for associations argue against it being claimed - so the homeowner was still responsible. You can go after them even if they no longer live there. You just have to determine if it is fiscally worth it.
Take away their parking like we will be doing. No pay, no parking permit, and your car gets towed away. I have a thread on this posted on this forum. I am the VP of the 104 unit condo in MD.
I know how you feel, we have the same problem here in Ohio. One of the things you need to see is what kind of chapter bankruptcy did she file because unless she is not reaffirming the debt and keeping the property, she should have to pay you back fees. She will get an automatic stay of any foreclosure action while in bankruptcy- which really stinks. We also have newer condo laws and we will soon be telling owners per our attorney, that if their account is delinquent they may not be able to park on the property since we are on private property and we reserve the right to make the rules. We have also instituted enforcement fines, and we had an owner who refused to pay and we got a civil judgement against her and garnished her wages- she paid off $6K in fees in less than 2 years! Don't give up! Our bylaws state we don't allow renter's, but we have some who do so we are requiring all renter's owner and tenant) to sign a rental addendum and if they don't pay the fees we will evict, and they must provide a copy of the lease to us, if they don't the unit gets fined.
Here in the Philippines, our laws considers assessment liens as superior to all other liens and encumbrances except taxes. So if the owner remains indifferent on the HOA's pleas for payment, foreclosure is the next best thing to do. Am a property manager for 25 years of condominium projects, but anotating the lien to a title is our last resort because mere cutting off utilities rattles the owner, to pay his dues.
Ed (in the Philippines). Your country exhibits rare common sense. In the US non-profit HOAs take last place to all other creditors. We also are not allowed to cut utilities off (even though the utility companies can do so) because someone making up these half-baked laws doesn't want condo boards to get too heavy handed. That is how you end up with innocent homeowners paying the way for the dead-beats. I would like to move to the Phillipines but I can't even afford to sell my condo now!
We are a Washington HOA of 74 units and faced these past due problems until we tapped into our our manpower resources. It turns out we have two attorneys and a retired cop as resident owners.
The retired officer was elected to the board and is our Treasurer.
We can't afford to hire our management company to do our collection, so we do them our selves and it saves us a lot of time and money.
We make sure we follow the WA state's rules in collecting our past dues; sending a late notice and such. In the end, our treasurer gets a judgment and files a lien against the property. That whole process only costs us $0 because we are allowed to add the charges to the past due owner's bill.
When a forclosure occures, we're a valid lied holder and we get our money back before the property is sold.
Sure, it's a big pain in the rear and time consuming, but the judgement puts the teeth into the lien.
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WA State law (RCW 64.34.364) states:
(1) The association has a lien on a unit for any unpaid assessments levied against a unit from the time the assessment is due.
(2) A lien under this section shall be prior to all other liens and encumbrances on a unit EXCEPT (a) Liens and encumbrances recorded before the recording of the declaration; (b) a mortgage on the unit recorded before the date on which the assessment sought to be enforced became delinquent; and (c) liens for real property taxes and other governmental assessments or charges against the unit.