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Can condo association cut-off services to non-paying unit owner?

Posted on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 @ 09:18 AM
  
  
  
  
A unit owner has stopped paying his HOA (3 months behind). He previously informed me that he was going to foreclose or short sale his unit. He is not responding to any contacts and has not been seen at the property. However, he has access to common elements: water, garage (where he is storing old vehicle...etc). Since he is not communicating with the association, not paying HOA, can I deny him entry to building, have his abandoned vehicle removed from garage (its a possible habitat for rodents) and find out the status of his property with his lien holder? Need I mention that he has a previous lien for not paying his HOA for a year. Then filed bankruptcy to avoid paying. Not to mention, he is has a paid position as a property manager.

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COMMENTS

Which State are you in?

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 9:40 AM by Carli


Most likely you can not do any of the things you are discussing. Unless he is in violation of your governing documents you can't remove his personal property. That would be stealing it.  
 
You may be able to restrict his access to common areas, but you can never restrict his access to his property. Before restricting garage access make sre that his parking is considered common area and is not titled.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 9:46 AM by Jeff Ross


Common area restrictions are may be ok - but if he's declared bankruptcy and has more than 1 lien on his condo it is time to contact an attorney. I know that's never the answer that people want in this forum... 
DO NOT cut off utilities - this is a good way to get yourself sued!

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 10:14 AM by merge


NO, NO, AND NO. Federal and State Laws protect these !@#$#@. Liens are usually filed with the county and you can check them online. Make sure your Association places a lien on him asap. If he has a mortgage, good luck with getting the bank to foreclose. You will just have to wait it out. You can usually restrict him from using the common grounds and facilities, IF you can enforce that yourselves. We've got a deadbeat living fee free for 4 years now because the bank won't foreclose and the court won't compel the bank. What a world, huh.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 10:45 AM by marjon


I live in the state of Washington and the law won't let us cut off utilities. The gas supplied through dues is strictly for ornamental fireplaces that are not intended to heat the home yet it is a utility that they can still get. You may lose out this time but it is time to get the board to change some rules. Our rules prevent anyone from parking inoperable vehicles in the unit garage or a common area parking space. This has prevented many problems. It would take a 90% approval from homeowners to get units individually set up for direct service from the utility company (who would definetly shut non-payers off)but we can't get even 40% of the community to show up for annual meetings. If your association is small you may have better luck. I will never again buy into a condo community that provides utility paid dues as we have had to absorb thousands of dollars in free amenities to deadbeats. Look to future prevention and see if you can change the rules to get abandoned cars out of the garage.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 10:54 AM by Renee


As so frequently clarified - is this a condo? Is he not paying condo fees? (Description sounds like condo - Remember - condo law different from HOA laws)  
Depending upon the state - it may be possible to shut off any utility provided to that unit, if no other unit is affected.  
Depending upon location (county, town) - It may be possible, depending upon documents and properly adopted rules, to tow the car.  
 
Begin collection process immediately for current past due. Utilize experienced attorney as there may be additional to lien processes which will protect should the owner attempt short sale. Judgements are protecting condos against reduction in total $$ collected. All may not be collected at short sale, but judgement provides protection above a lien.  
Also, due to his professional employment, consider going to small claims court. Just filing may cause him to take action to protect his credit. 
 
Let your local and state delegates know the financial burden that the condo is incurring. Without specific info, they have less ability to pass legislation that helps.  

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:03 PM by Nancy Jacobsen


depends on the state, the bylaws, the city ordinances,  
 
Why do the moderators of this lame forum allow overly specific questions such as this? 
 
Usually it a state law issue. This forum is badly run and badly moderated.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 1:33 PM by john_mastro@hotmail.com


In WA State condos built under the old law (Horizontal Regimes Act) can shut off utilities. It has been quite effective, but our Board does not use it or do any collections, hence delinquencies in excess of $200,000 in an 84 unit condo, leaning roofs that we do not have money to repair, and buildings that are falling apart.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 3:02 PM by Lynn


I am not sure about cutting off PG&E and Gas in California but since the owner filed bankruptcy he should be under protection at this time.I sure would not cut off the utilities.Who wants to get sued? The laws may vary in different states.better to check first.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 3:09 PM by Mari


Overall you have been given good advice. 
 
1. Do not mess with anyone's utilities, that is a lawsuit waiting to happen. 
2. HOA needs to follow the established and documented HOA 'collections policy'. Typically that means engage a lawyer to place a lien against the property. That way when the property is sold the money due the HOA is paid out of the proceeds of the sale. A realtor could loose their license if they ignore the lien. 
3. Based on the 'collections policy', after a period of time has passed, the HOA can foreclose on the property unless it is already in foreclosure or bankruptcy. That is state dependent too. 
 
We have one owner who we have foreclosed on twice for not paying assessments. Each time we have gotten as far as selling the property on the courthouse steps (NC law). Each time the owner has dug deep into their pockets and paid all the due assessments with late charges as well as HOA attorney and court costs. After the first time you would think they would realize that it would cost them significantly less if they just paid their assessments on time. 
 
Now that same owner is in bankruptcy, the condo, a private residence, and a home at the beach. While the HOA is a creditor we don't have a clue on how the courts will rule. So we don't receive any monthly assessments from the owner while the bankruptcy courts decide (bankruptcy was filed in March). And because we are a creditor, we cannot have any contact with the owner legally. 
 
I share your pain.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 3:29 PM by Ron


Unfortunately no you can't turn off the utilities or deny access in most states without a court order. Ask your attorney what the status is of the lien on the unit, hopefully the association has filed a lien to protect your interest. Regarding the bankruptcy, he is responsible for all fees after the date he filed for bankruptcy, you need to also know if he included the association in the filing. If he has stopped paying his mortgage look at your county public records to see if the mortgage company has filed and make sure you are a party to their filing so hopefully you can get a judgment. Again, ask your attorney to respond so the courts know he owes fees. Find out where he works so once you do get a judgment you can garnish wages. If he is having a true financial hardship, remind him that there are programs available with his mortgage company to avoid foreclosure. If he applies for one of their programs (HAMP, HARP etc) he can ask them to pay his fees current.  
 
Check your state condo laws and your bylaws. You should have something in your bylaws about all vehicles being operable. In most states the board of managers regulates and enforces the rules and regulations on the property but make sure you notify the owner so he has a chance to cure the issue before you just tag and tow the car.

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 4:57 PM by Kathy


I also live in Washington state. Our Declaration specifically states our Association has the right to cut off utilities. However we pay the electricity and water utilities out of the monthly dues. And we do shut them off when necessary. 
 

posted @ Saturday, September 22, 2012 7:49 PM by Don


Ron is correct 
Don is correct 
 
 
Good luck we are still waiting for our 2 owners to Annie up. 
They could care less about what they owe. They walk around leith smiles on their faces....go figure.

posted @ Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:14 AM by S


Yes you do, and I would encourage you doing, we did this in our building, where the front door key fob was disconnected, it worked magic, people start paying their maintenance fees in a day or two.

posted @ Sunday, September 23, 2012 8:26 AM by Val


This issue is in Chicago and these are condos, so not a HOA. The garage is common area, and the access change will be enforced for the garage, gates & bldg entry (not just because of him). So, I have to find out if he is entitled to entry because 1. He is behind on assessments 2. He has not provided any contact info 3. He is not living in the unit.  
We are only a 3unit bldg, so we hate to hire lawyers w/limited funds, esp. since the Assoc is missing fees because him.

posted @ Monday, September 24, 2012 10:53 AM by Martin


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