Goodspeed: Not paying association fees is a horrible idea

LINDA GOODSPEED
CORRESPONDENT
When a community association does not have enough funds from its regular reserves to fund a large and necessary repair, it can levy a special assessment.

QUESTION:Our condo association recently passed a special assessment to replace the roof. Many owners cannot afford to pay this assessment. What would happen if many of us, at least half the owners, refused to pay this assessment?

ANSWER: You would be playing with fire.

When a community association does not have enough funds from its regular reserves to fund a large and necessary repair, it can levy a special assessment. Special assessments are passed by a vote following rules spelled out in the common association documents.

Homeowners who live in the community association who do not pay regular monthly dues and/or special assessments can be sued by their community association for a monetary judgment and can even have their home foreclosed with the proceeds of the foreclosure sale used to pay the debt.

The amount collected can be far more than the unpaid dues or assessment, including attorney fees, court costs, interest and administrative fees. Not paying your regular association dues and special assessments is a serious matter and can quickly jeopardize your home.

If you receive an invoice from the association that you do not agree with, contact the property manager to discuss the charge and how it was arrived at. If there is a dispute about the charge or the necessity of the repair, you should still pay the amount due before continuing to fight the charge. This will stop any additional charges from accruing.

If the amount of the special assessment is more than you can afford to pay all at once, you should immediately approach the property manager and board to see if other arrangements can be made/ For example, set up a payment plan, spreading the assessment over two or more years or some other arrangement. But the worst thing you can do is simply not pay the assessment.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.