Homebuyers looking at property in your community may have many questions, and some of those questions may relate to the cost and operations of the community association. A well-prepared inquirer may request information about the reputation and financial standing of the HOA or COA as well as the amount of annual fees. Experience as a member of the association board has probably taught you that the more information you supply, the less likely new owners will misunderstand or violate the rules of your community.
One of the basic rules for living in an association-governed community is that homeowners must pay their monthly or annual association fees. Like paying the mortgage, the association fee is non-negotiable and is part of the contract residents sign when they purchase their homes in the neighborhood or condominium. When residents fail to pay their fees, you and the association board may have to take actions that are less than desirable.
If a resident does not pay
Enforcing the rules in a community is not always fun, especially when penalties and consequences apply to your neighbors and friends. However, the association fee is a critical requirement because that money assists with the improvement and maintenance of the entire community. This may include upgrading or adding amenities, maintaining landscaping and common areas, and repairing infrastructure as needed.
Therefore, residents who do not pay their association fees, and pay them on time, may create a situation where the whole community suffers. Residents are bound by contract to pay their dues, and unpleasant as it may be, you and the association board may have to exercise your power to collect any delinquent fees the residents owe. Any of the following legal options may be available to you to impose on those residents who do not pay their fees:
- Assessing a late fee after a certain grace period
- Filing a lawsuit to force the owner to pay
- Placing a lien on the delinquent owner’s property
- Taking action to foreclose on the home
Naturally, the steps you take must comply with the terms of contract the owner signed. You likely want to avoid the time and expense of taking the matter to court, but sometimes this step is unavoidable. These are delicate matters, and you may benefit from obtaining solid advice from someone with experience and knowledge to assist you in taking the appropriate steps and ensure you are within the rights of the association.