One of the most frequently reoccurring problems that our co-op, condominium and homeowners association clients face is non-payment of dues and assessments. At Schneider Buchel LLP, we have dealt with this issue so often that we have the collection and foreclosure processes practically down to a science.
Sometimes all it takes to get a delinquent account up to date is a strongly worded and properly issued notice from the governing board. We are experienced in using the notice procedures required by the federal government, the state of New York, and by individual municipalities in the New York City/Long Island region. As such, we can help governing boards ensure their collection practices are in compliance with the law so as to avoid bigger problems in the future.
Beyond ensuring that the proper procedures are in place and helping to draft and serve notices, we can also help the governing board discover the reason for non-payment. Since financial difficulties are the most frequent culprit, getting a lawyer involved in these disputes is virtually a necessity. Having a lawyer involved conveys to the community member how serious their delinquency is. It can also prompt them to be more truthful about their situation as they are often less concerned about being embarrassed, as compared to when they are dealing with a board or community member.
Most of the time delinquent payments stem from the community member’s financial difficulties, but sometimes there is an underlying problem that an outside expert can help you identify. For example, we have helped clients discover that the process they use for collecting payments is cumbersome. We have also discovered instances where the community member was deliberately withholding payments in protest of a policy he or she disagreed with or perceived as a slight, and was just waiting to be confronted about it. Once we know the real reason for the problem, we can help you craft an appropriate solution.
Working out a payment plan is sometimes an option in situations where payments are in arrears because of financial difficulties, but more often than not the situation cannot be resolved without more drastic legal action.
Co-ops, condos, and homeowners associations generally have the power to place a lien on a community member’s property if they fall behind on their payments to the community. Placing a lien on the property makes it very difficult for the community member to sell the property without repaying. Buyers will want the lien paid off before closing, and banks are often unwilling to refinance a mortgage or provide a new loan to the owner until the lien is satisfied. After a period of time, you can also move to foreclose on the lien. Just like a mortgage foreclosure, a lien foreclosure mandates the sale of the property and gives the proceeds to the property’s creditors.
If you are a co-op, condo, or HOA in the New York City/Long Island region having trouble collecting dues and assessments from your community members, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Schneider Buchel. Call us at (516)393-5555 to schedule a consultation today.