G.P. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
There is a unit in my condo whose unit owner is about 7 months in arrears of common fees. Can a management company or condo board request a renter to send the rent directly to the management company to pay up the common fees?
Mister Condo replies:
G.P., you’ve touched on a common problem plaguing many condominium communities here in our state and across the nation as well. The basic premise lies in who is entitled to collect the rent on the unit when a condo is rented by an owner who falls behind in payment of common fees. Common sense would dictate that the portion of the rent being paid each month that covers the common fees should be paid to the association. By and large that is exactly what happens as most landlords don’t want to risk foreclosure on their units for non-payment of common fees. However, when a landlord doesn’t pay the association the common fees it is due, there are measures the association should take to collect its common fees.
The way it works in Connecticut is that the rent is collected by the landlord and the common fees are payable by the landlord, not the tenant. So the short answer is that there is no legal remedy that can force a tenant to pay the association in lieu of making payment to the landlord. That being said, the Board could negotiate a payment plan with the landlord whereby the landlord agrees to have the rent, or a portion thereof, sent directly to the association as payment for delinquent common fees. I am assuming that your Board is already using all of its other options to collect the common fees. That includes, but is not limited to, hiring a collection agency, placing a lien on the property, and even foreclosure. The law allows for all of those remedies and for the association to pass the expense of the collection efforts along to the delinquent unit owner. Unless the unit owner files for bankruptcy protection, the association has some tremendous tools at their disposal to collect the delinquent fees.
Hopefully, the delinquent unit owner will get the message that the association requires all unit owners to make timely payment of their common fees in order for the association to meet its financial obligations. That concept is at the very core of common interest communities and what makes it possible for all of us to enjoy our condominium amenities and experience. Good luck!