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Does your condominium or homeowners association (HOA) have owners who don’t pay their assessments?  Owners are finding more excuses to avoid paying their assessments.  Filing multiple bankruptcies, submitting payments with conditional language, NSF payments, claiming they don’t owe since they don’t use the common elements. . .  The list goes on and on.

So how does your association handle these “Sophisticated Debtors”?  Does your Association have a strong written collection policy?  Are your governing documents updated and in compliance with current law?  If not, your association will spend more than you should be in trying to collect unpaid assessments.

To ease the pain and headache of collecting unpaid assessments, make sure your association has:
Continue Reading Dealing with Sophisticated Debtors

Mental health issues can impact community associations in a myriad of ways.  Often Associations become the “reluctant care provider” (owners have no family/next of kin, or the family “dumped” the owner in the Association rather than in a care facility).  This can be true of older residents (“aging-in-place”) as well of younger residents.  The COVID pandemic, and the corresponding year of lockdowns, has added extra stress and increased isolation, exacerbating existing mental health conditions.  This has led to an increase of emotional distress, substance abuse, and suicides.

Because community associations are communities, issues that arise with one resident can interfere with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their property.  Mental health issues don’t always stay “contained” within the affected owner’s property – noise, shouting, threats, trespassing, damage to property, physical violence – all can interfere with other residents’ quiet enjoyment of their property.  While these issues can manifest themselves as harassment and hostilities, they can also lead to dangerous situations.  [To read more on dealing with harassment and hostile environment, click HERE.]

While it is not the Association’s responsibility to determine if someone has a mental disability, it is the Association’s responsibility to help ensure that all residents live harmoniously. 
Continue Reading Tackling Mental Health and Aging Issues in Your Community Association

Let’s face it, 2020 was rough and not everyone was nice about it.  Hate crimes have increased dramatically over the last six years.  Heightened political tensions have led to family quarrels and neighbor-to-neighbor feuds.  And to top it all off, the COVID pandemic and corresponding lockdowns has made most of us a little stir crazy.

Where does this leave community associations?  Associations have a duty to protect residents from a hostile environment and can be held responsible for the actions of its board members, employees, and residents.  (To learn more on hostile environment and Association liability, click HERE.)

So what’s a community association to do?  GET EDUCATED AND TAKE ACTION!
Continue Reading Education, Education, Education – Overcoming Harassment, Racism and Hostility in Community Associations

In a 2017 New York case, a dispute arose over what authority the Association had to perform landscaping maintenance on an individual homeowner’s lot (Minkin v. Board of Directors of Cortlandt Ridge Homeowners’ Association, Inc., 149 A. D.3d 723 (2017)).  When the owner refused to pay the assessment for the landscaping services, the Board started assessing fines.  The owner sued the Board.  The New York Supreme Court (the lowest level court in New York) decided that the Board did have the authority to perform the landscaping services on the front lawn and the homeowner was required pay the assessment as well as the fines.  Unfortunately for the Association, there was also a larger issue dealing with the work performed and assessed on the side and rear of the house.  The problem was that the Board and managing agent could not provide backup or evidence for exactly what work was done in each area, and accordingly, the assessments and fines were not upheld in those areas.
Continue Reading Know Your Governing Documents

A recent New York Court dealt with an issue on leasing (Olszewski v. Cannon Point Association, Inc., 148 A.D.3d 1306 (2017)).  The Board adopted rules and regulations that placed restrictions on leasing that contradicted relevant portions of the Association’s Bylaws.  The Association then fined the owner for violating these restrictions and the owner sued.  The owner won at the circuit court level and the Association appealed.  On appeal, the Court again ruled in favor of the owner, upholding the trial court’s decision.  Why?
Continue Reading Can the Association’s Documents be Contradictory and Still Enforceable?

An association in southeastern Wisconsin is made up of condominiums that are also rented out for the owners (condotels). In this particular case, a unit owner, who lived in Illinois, was in financial difficulty and wanted to file bankruptcy and turn their condominium over to their bank.  The bank’s attorney prepared a deed in lieu and sent it to the unit owner, which the unit owner then had recorded.  The bank became the owner and was responsible for not only the dues from that date forward, but also what was owed by the unit owner.  The bank did not want to acknowledge this.
Continue Reading Banks & a Deed in Lieu

A Milwaukee association took possession of a unit through foreclosure, but could not rent out the unit because of its condition and could not sell it because of a large mortgage. After the property is vacant for several months and the lender did not start a foreclosure, The Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team brought a quiet title action against the lender. The purpose of this is to either get the lender to take a deed for the property or have the court order the mortgage to be quieted (wiped out) on the title.
Continue Reading Quiet Title Actions

An association in southeast Wisconsin consists of plots of land upon which the various unit owners can park a mobile home or trailer. Under the association documents, unit owners cannot be in the trailer more than 60 days between October and April or a $10,000 monthly fine will be assessed.  A unit owner owed more than $13,000 in fines in addition to unpaid monthly assessments.  When the unit owner continued to refuse to pay, the association started foreclosure on its lien. 
Continue Reading Collecting Large Fines

A condominium association in Milwaukee has historically faced heavy delinquency issues. Through The Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team’s assertive collection methods, the firm collected more than $290,000 in assessments, interest and legal fees for the association since 2013. A substantial portion of the $290,000 resulted from the sale and/or rental of 10 units that became owned by the association.
Continue Reading When an Association Owns a Unit – Recouping Delinquent Assessments Through Unit Rental/Sales

A condominium association had an owner that was uncooperative, didn’t like following rules and paid assessments on her own timeframe for more than 10 years. In the spring of 2009, another law firm started collection against the unit owner for unpaid assessments by filing a lien on the property.  During the next year and a half, the lien was foreclosed and judgment entered.  In November 2011, the property went to sheriff’s sale. At the sheriff’s sale the attorney for the association opened the bidding at $1 and the property was purchased by a third party for $2.  When the third party spoke with the unit owner, he felt sorry for her and sold the property back to her. Although the association’s attorney sought and was granted a deficiency judgment, the judgment was not collectible because the unit owner was retired and had no assets.  As a result, the association’s debt had increased to more than $22,000, which the association lost due to the purchase of the unit by the third party for $2. 
Continue Reading Why Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Condominium & HOA Law