J.D. from Broward County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am Treasurer for my property. We are not a co-op. A unit owner cannot afford to pay monthly maintenance or assessment fees. The owner has stated such and sees no way they ever will be able to pay. The owner does say they will try to pay something when possible. The arrears are mounting. What course of action is recommended for the board to follow to protect our interest yet have compassion?
Mister Condo replies:
J.D., showing compassion is admirable at the right place and time. When it comes to the timely collection of HOA dues and assessments, it is important to remember that the organization cannot run properly without all owners paying their fair share. It isn’t fair to the owners who do make timely payments that they shoulder the debt burden for delinquent unit owners. It says so in your governing documents which detail the procedure that must be taken against delinquent unit owners, including interest, late fees, and even foreclosure in the most extreme cases. HOAs and common interest communities are usually not-for-profit corporations, not to be confused with non-profit charitable organizations. It is a business, first and foremost and needs to be run as such. Of course, associations have some flexibility when it comes to working with delinquent unit owners but, in my opinion, the delinquency needs to be corrected as soon as possible. That would mean the unit owner would have to keep current on monthly dues while making substantial payments towards the arrears. The owner’s statement that they will “pay something when possible” is completely unacceptable in my opinion. Consult with the association’s attorney if necessary but I believe the best course of action is to place the account into a collection’s agent or attorney’s hands and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes compassion is in helping the unit realize they just can’t afford to live in your community and need to find housing they can actually afford. Good luck!