Unpaid Assessment Collection

Facts

A unit owner stopped paying assessments.  The condominium association properly recorded and perfected a lien against the unit for those assessments.  Under the applicable Oregon statute, the condo association lien is prior to all other liens, except tax liens and a first mortgage or deed of trust.  An exception exists, such that the condominium association can gain priority over the first mortgage if (among other things) “the association gives the first lienholder formal notice of the unpaid assessments, and the lienholder ‘has not initiated judicial action to foreclose the mortgage * * * prior to the expiration of 90 days following the notice[.]’”  In this case, five days after the association recorded its lien, the bank filed a judicial foreclosure action against the unit, but did not name the association as party, and therefore the foreclosure suit would not have terminated the lien rights of the association.  To correct this issue, the bank filed an amended complaint naming the association as a party.  Five months later the trial court issued a dismissal of the claim against the association, without prejudice, for failure to prosecute.  Five months after that the association sent the bank notice of the unit owner’s default on assessments.  The bank took no action in the next 90 days to reinstate the dismissal or file a new action against the association.
Continue Reading Lien Priority Statutes and Why They Make Sense

The law does NOT require a Board to extend additional time to owners to pay assessments just because of the COVID 19 pandemic.  While such policies may show a concern for members of a community, probably without realizing it, those policies may also have significant adverse effects on the Association, especially in 2020.  What

First, I want to thank Julie Howard and her firm NowackHoward in Atlanta, Georgia for much of this Blog (adjusted for Wisconsin Law and my commentary).  She is the former president of the College of Community Association Lawyers (“CCAL”), an excellent association attorney, and has been kind enough to allow Husch Blackwell to use much of their article.

The law does NOT require a Board to extend additional time to owners to pay assessments just because of the COVID 19 pandemic.  While such policies may show a concern for members of a community, probably without realizing it, those policies may also have significant adverse effects on the Association, especially in 2020.

With this background, Associations should first look to see which of their expenses are variable (those that can be cut or reduced because of the pandemic).  Secondly, the Board must ask can the Association really afford to extend the payment of assessments for some or all of its owners?  Associations faced this same challenge during the last financial crisis.  In an editorial published on February 5, 2008 in The Atlanta Constitution, George Nowack (another former president of the CCAL) explained that because many Associations had allowed members to not pay and suspended collection actions, the balances on unpaid accounts reached levels that members gave up trying to pay.  The lesson learned from that past is that a Board is not doing any member a favor if it allows an Association’s accounts receivable to go unaddressed.  That advice is equally true today.
Continue Reading Assessment Collections and COVID-19