J.A. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Unit owners in my condo were given a large assessment recently. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to pay for the assessment as the board requires. I am doing my best and making a payment each month until my assessment is paid in full. My question is about the late fee I am being charged each month until my assessment is paid. Does the Board have the right to charge me a monthly fee until the assessment is paid in full?
Mister Condo replies:
J.A., I am sorry that you found yourself facing a costly special assessment. While it is possible that your Board may have been able to offer unit owners options for paying the assessment, the bottom line is that once the assessment is passed, it is treated like any other monies owed to the association. That means it is subject to the same rules, penalties, and late charges as common fees.
I am glad that you are making your payments to the association. Monies collected through special assessment are generally needed quickly by the association to make repairs or replace common elements. In a larger condo like yours, those projects can cost millions of dollars. When the association’s Reserve Fund isn’t adequately funded, special assessments or community association loans are the only ways these projects can be paid for. You might want to suggest your Board consider have a professional Reserve Study conducted to assure that a similar situation doesn’t occur again. You might also ask the Board to consider a community association loan to pay for major expenses. That would likely increase your common fees but would allow for major projects to be paid for over time instead of all at once, which is why you got hit with the special assessment in the first place. Good luck!