R.F. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I lost my job this past September and I am having difficulty paying my monthly mortgage and common fees on my condo. If I don’t pay my mortgage I am pretty sure that the bank will foreclose on me. What will happen if I miss a month or two of my common fees? Will the condo association foreclose on me as well?
Mister Condo replies:
R.F., I am sorry that you have lost a job and are now struggling to make ends meet. There is no doubt that the current economic situation in our state is proving challenging for many residents. I hope you find gainful employment soon to get yourself back on your feet. The short answer to your question is “yes”. Your condo association can foreclose on you for non-payment of common fees. However, it is not likely that they will do so if you are simply late one month. There is a process of collections that involves late fees, legal fees, and a court order before a foreclosure and eviction can occur. That being said, you do not want to head down that path if you can avoid it. You will lose far more than you might gain, including your condo.
Common fees are the lifeblood of the condo association. All sorts of common items are paid for by these fees. Many of them directly benefit you and all other unit owners. Insurance, maintenance, management, common utilities, and much more are all paid for using common fees. When the common fees don’t arrive as planned, the association can quickly find itself unable to meet its financial obligations. State law protects the rights of your fellow condo unit owners by allowing the association to take fairly swift collection against unit owners who aren’t paying their fair share on time. In addition to fines for late payment, you could also end up paying for the legal fees the association incurs to take action against you. If your common fees were $300 per month and you decided not to pay for 3 months, you would have not conserved $900 for yourself. Now add the penalties of $25 per month and $500 for legal fees to take collection action against you and you’ve incurred a cost of $1475 for 3 months use of $900. That hardly makes sense!
If possible, I would encourage you to borrow the money from a friend or family member until you get back on your feet. You could even offer to pay it back with generous interest and you would still come out ahead. And your association will be able to pay its bills it incurs on your behalf. I hope this explanation helps. All the best!