A.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
What action can be taken against unit owners who refuse to pay a $100 special assessment levied because of a snow removal fund shortfall?
Mister Condo replies:
A.M., with the amount of snow that fell here in the Northeast this past winter, I would think your community did very well to only require a $100 special assessment per unit to get rid of the white stuff. I have heard of tales where the assessments were in the several hundred-dollar range and even as much as $1000!
That being said, your by-laws very likely spell out the steps of how a special assessment is levied and the procedures for what happens when that assessment is not paid in timely fashion. Provided you levied the assessment properly, it was due as assigned during the assessment. For such a small assessment that date was likely the date it was issued.
Late payments of assessments are generally handled the same as late payment of fees. So, if your fees are $250 per month and the unit owner pays the fees but not the assessment, the payment is split so as $100 of the payment is posted towards the special assessment (satisfying that debt) and the balance of the payment ($150) goes towards the monthly common fee payment which is now delinquent by $100. If you have a late fee system in place (most associations do) and that $100 is not paid by the due date, you assess the late fee and inform the unit owner that they now owe $100 in late common fees as well as the fine for not paying on time. This continues month after month until the unit owner pays in full or the association is forced to take further collection actions which may refer turning the account over to a collection agency or an attorney for foreclosure on the property due to lack of payment.
As you can see, the association is not powerless to collect its moneys. Special assessments and common fees are the lifeblood of any association and as long as the assessment was levied in accordance with the association’s rules on special assessments, you should be able to collect your assessment with little further ado. All the best!