If an owner does not pay a regular or special assessment, he/she is subject to a variety of fees and penalties. They are also responsible for the association’s attorney fees incurred in debt collection. The association has the power to record a lien against the property. They may also file a lawsuit to obtain a judgment against the owner, and may also pursue foreclosure. This results in an auction-like sale of the delinquent owner’s unit or lot to pay the assessment and the collection costs. If the association obtains a judgment against a non-paying owner, the association can garnish the owner’s wages and bank accounts for collection of the debt.
The association must have a written policy for collecting delinquent assessments. The policy should require immediate and aggressive action every time an assessment is delinquent. This approach avoids the awkwardness of responding to owners who request additional time to pay and avoids creating a perception of leniency or inconsistent treatment. Moreover, in cases where the delinquent owner has also defaulted on his/her mortgage, quick action decreases the likelihood that a mortgage foreclosure will prevent the association from collecting the unpaid assessment(s).
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