J.B. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I bought my condo outright when I had been left a life insurance policy. When I had the money, I paid my condo fees loyally every month. Inevitably, the money ran out as I struggled to look for a job. I finally found a job and started to pay back the current fee (which changed after I had sent my proposal letter) plus what I could afford while seeing to my other bills, and then a few months into my new job I got laid off. Before and after these events, the association president was and is threatening to take me to court. What do I do?
Mister Condo replies:
J.B., I am guessing that you never had the opportunity to fully understand the commitment to timely payments of monthly common fees when you decided to purchase your condo. If you think back to when you made the purchase, you were supplied with a packet of documents. Commonly referred to as the “condo docs”, these documents are a legally binding agreement between you and the association. In addition to a description of the unit that you purchased you will find a declaration, covenants and by-laws. Each of these is important for their own reason but you will find a clearly defined set of rules for paying your monthly common fees, special assessments, fines, etc.. These rules form the basis for the community to function. One of the most important concepts of community association living is that every member of the association contributes his or her fair share to the common expenses of the association. Your association is a non-profit corporation. The only revenue that comes in is from the community members that pay their fair share for the common things that are purchased on their behalf. Insurance, landscaping, snow and trash removal, building and grounds maintenance and much more are paid for by the associations, and therefore owners like you. If the owners don’t pay their common fees in timely fashion, the bills cannot be paid. The “condo docs” clearly explain this and also what remedies the association may exercise trying to collect delinquent common fees. In your case, it sounds as though the association president is performing his job admirably by looking out for the common interest of the community by trying to collect your delinquent common fees.
The good news is that all is not lost. It sounds to me like you are getting yourself back on your feet with a new job. Congratulations! In theory, you will get your finances back in good order shortly. It is imperative that you pay your common fees in arrears and current as soon as you possibly can if you wish to avoid additional fees in the form of attorney and/or collection fees. Best wishes.