Efficient Solutions for Unpaid Dues
One of the most frequently recurring problems that our Condominium and Homeowners Association clients face is the non-payment of common charges and assessments. At Schneider Buchel LLP, we have a department dedicated exclusively to handling the issues surrounding the collection of common charge and assessment arrears.
Here to Help With These Issues
Sometimes all it takes to get a delinquent account up to date is a strongly worded and properly issued notice which includes a warning to the unit owner of the consequences of not paying the monies owed and complying with the notice. We are experienced in using the notice procedures required by community association governing documents as well as all applicable laws affecting properties in New York State. As such, we can help governing boards ensure their collection practices are in compliance with their governing documents and the law so as to avoid more significant problems due to non-compliance and also ensure a greater likelihood of payment being made without the need for a foreclosure aciton.
Counseling Boards on Best Practices
Beyond ensuring that the proper procedures are in place and helping to draft and serve notices, we also counsel Boards on the best approach to dealing with the impacts of unit owners not paying the association. We understand that some Boards are reluctant to spend the money needed to engage an attorney to collect the monies owed to the associations. However, we have demonstrated to our clients that not hiring an attorney and spending the money needed to collect the arrears is actually more expensive than the legal fees that will be incurred. Keep in mind every month that a unit owner doesn’t pay their monthly charge is a loss of that revenue from your budgeted income. The sooner you get a paying unit owner in the unit, the sooner you start realizing revenue from the unit.
Creating Effective Procedures
Not only have we counseled our clients on the best approach to collecting arrears from a unit owner, we have also guided our clients on creating effective procedures for collecting payments. Oftentimes, we assist our clients in seeking the necessary amendments to the governing documents to add provisions which facilitate the maximum recovery of monies.
Our approach will oftentimes result in a unit owner responding with the underlying reasons for their non-payment. Once we know the real reason for the problem, we can help you craft an appropriate solution. For example, if the unit owner simply can’t afford to pay the total amount due, we can recommend a payment plan which would be incorporated into a formal agreement that contains remedies if a unit owner doesn’t comply with the agreement.
Filing a Lein
As far as the legal remedies available, Condominiums and Homeowners Associations generally have the power to place a lien on a unit owner’s home due to their failure to make the payments required to the association. Placing a lien puts the world on notice that money is owed to the association and will prevent the homeowner from selling the property or refinancing a mortgage without paying what is owed.
While the recording of a lien against the unit owner’s property protects the Board in the event that the unit owner attempts to sell the property, refinance or obtain a new loan, it oftentimes will not be enough to collect the money owed. In most instances, the Board should then proceed to foreclose the lien after it is filed. Ultimately, the association can foreclose the lien much like a mortgage lender can foreclose their mortgage.
Navigating the Best Options
A common misconception with the enforcement of unpaid dues or assessments is that the condominium or homeowners associations are limited to filing a lawsuit seeking a money judgment. However, money judgment actions will oftentimes result in a judgment that is uncollectible. After all, if the unit owner is not paying the association, they probably aren’t paying other creditors and don’t care about an additional judgment. The foreclosure of the lien, on the other hand, puts the unit owner at risk of losing their home at a foreclosure sale.
Moreover, another misconception is that because a first mortgage lien has “priority” over a condominium or homeowners association lien, the condominium or homeowners association is unable to recoup the amounts due and owing. However, there are a number of scenarios where the condominium or homeowners association has a viable means of doing so.
Our dedicated team in our lien foreclosure department can help evaluate the best options for collecting the monies owed to the association and assist you in collecting the maximum amount of money the association is entitled.
Experience You Can Count On
If you are a condominium or HOA anywhere in New York State having trouble collecting dues and assessments from your community members, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Schneider Buchel LLP.