K.P. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can the board change the due date of the common charges in the middle of the year? They were due by the 15th of month (stated on the coupon). Now, letter we got in the mail states due by the 10th. Can they do that?
Mister Condo replies:
K.P., as a matter of practicality the Board can change the due date of common charges although I cannot imagine any reason why they would. However, adequate notice must be given to all unit owners and the Board may even need to amend the condominium documents to reflect such a change. Most documents specify what date the fees are due and what the penalties are for missing the date by a few days, if there is a grace period, and so on. Also, the Board must practice reasonable business judgment and notify unit owners of such a change in writing and provide reasonable notice. The coupon is a useful tool in collecting common fees and may need to be reprinted if the Board wishes to continue using them. Otherwise, if the existing coupons are incorrect, I would advise the Board to recall the coupons so as not to create confusion amongst well-intentioned residents like yourself who are used to paying on the 15th and have coupon books printed by the association that state the 15th is the due date.
The most important thing about common fees is that they are paid monthly by all unit owners. Whether it is the 1st, the 10th, the 15th or whatever day of the month is somewhat irrelevant. However, the documents almost always spell out what the date is and the Board and unit owners need to abide by the documents. If the date needs to change, for whatever reason, there is a proper way to do it. From what you are telling me, it would appear that this Board has not done a good job of communicating to unit owners why the date was changed and why it was done when coupon books were already distributed. Clearly, this is causing confusion for you and, my guess, other unit owners.
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LOL – most documents use to state Common Charges were due on the FIRST of the month in advance. Sounds like they’re just changing the LATE FEE date.
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If the due date and grace period are stated in the by laws then the board cannot change them unless they amend the documents and record them in the public record. However, if the by-laws are silent on the due date and grace period and they appear in the rules and regulations they can amend them at a board meeting without having an attorney involved. See an article on Governing Documents here that may help: https://www.axela-tech.com/blog/an-easy-guide-to-understanding-condo-and-hoa-documents/