J.M. from Cook County, Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My situation is an unusual one. My landlord has accumulated $5000 of assessment fees and the association has just given me a summons (served by a sheriff) of a court date in one week for eviction. I am a disabled veteran who has been living here for more than 5 years. I’ve always paid my rent on time, I cleaned, rejuvenated, painted my apartment myself when I moved in, fixed myself all the discrepancies that were here, never causing any type of disturbance, an ideal tenant if you will.
I was told parking was included with my apartment but it wasn’t, so my landlord agreed to rent me a spot to be taken from my rent payment which would be paid to the association. I on my own have paid her half of that fee and sometimes all of it when my finances allowed. I have come to love my area, neighbors and living quarters. How can I stop this and save my home?
I went to the city clerk to make sure the taxes were up to date and they were. Is there a way I might be able to purchase this property? I am not working but I get disability and qualify for a VA home loan since I never used mine. Any suggestions?
Mister Condo replies:
J.M., thank you for your service and I am sorry you find yourself in this predicament. However, once the sheriff serves you an eviction notice, it is time to find a place to stay and remove any belongings you wish to keep should the eviction be formally acted upon. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your landlord, who must have been quite seriously delinquent to accumulate such a large amount of assessments. As you say, you’ve been paying your rent on time, so where has the money gone? If you have not already spoken with an attorney, I recommend you do so at once. You will likely have a course of action against your landlord but it may be like getting blood from a stone, especially if this delinquency is only the tip of the iceberg as is often the case with foreclosures and bankruptcies. You asked if you can purchase the home and my answer is “maybe”. Who would you purchase it from? The landlord likely has a mortgage that needs to be satisfied. The association is looking for its $5000 in assessments plus legal fees to collect that sum. Unless the mortgage company and the association agree to work with you, it is unlikely that this house can even be sold until it is liquidated through foreclosure. That is just economic Darwinism at work, not to mention that you could end up paying far more than the home is worth. My guess is that you will need to find a new home, at least, temporarily while this transaction plays out. If it is put up for sale or auction, you can certainly make an offer or place a bid but until the unit settles out, it is unlikely that you can stay in place. It is worth asking but I think an attorney will echo what I am telling you. You need to protect yourself and your belongings. Through no fault of your own, you ended up with a landlord who defaulted with the association. I wish you strength and good luck getting through this battle. All the best!