H.B. from Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello. The condo association recently replaced our driveways. The owners now have an extra charge on their monthly fees. In addition to this, if a condo fee is not made by the 15th, a $25 late fee is added. I have a family who just cannot do it by the 15th but can by the end of the month because of her husband getting paid every two weeks. I am on the Board of Directors and contacted the other two and they agreed to the family paying toward the end of the month. I am getting a lot of flack by the rest of the board on this. Has anyone been through this?
Mister Condo replies:
H.B., raised common fees to cover improvement projects such as driveway replacements happen all the time. Ideally, the common fees would have been higher in advance to cover the repair but that seems to not have been the situation. While I admire your empathy and compassion for the unit owner who is struggling to meet their financial demands in a timely fashion, I can also see where your fellow Board Members are pushing back for offering special treatment to this one community member. Your rules and by-laws are very specific on how and when common fees are to be collected. If you are going to change those rules for just one unit owner, you are setting a dangerous precedent and you are not fulfilling your mission of protecting the community’s common assets, which, in this case, are common fees, the very lifeblood of the community. What about all of the other unit owners who are paying on time? If one or more of them should have similar difficulty, would you waive their late fee and allow them to pay by the end of the month. What if they couldn’t make their payment this month because of a payoff or health issue? By not enforcing a rule that is already in place you are creating more problems than you are solving, in my opinion. The unit owner has a decision to make. They can pay their fees on time or continue to pay an additional $25 late fee until such time as they can make their payments on time. It is no different than any other bill in their life. Their mortgage, their credit card bills, and so on all carry penalties for late payments. Hopefully, they can find a way to make their common fee payments on time (borrow from a friend or family member if need be) and the community can continue to collect the monies they are owed so they can make their payments to all of the other good and service providers that the community relies on to flourish. Good luck!