IT’S NEVER A BAD TIME TO REVIEW YOUR DELINQUENCIES
With the budgeting and annual meeting season in the rear-view mirror and with the opening of pool season still a couple of months away, now is the time to review your association’s assessment delinquencies. There’s never a bad time to review delinquencies, but this is a particularly good time to determine if the owners are all carrying their fair share of the common expense. I have never understood the thought that any percentage of owners who don’t pay as being acceptable or expected. Setting an acceptable percentage of 10 or 10% of owners who are delinquent is really an arbitrary action. Why should 20% of the owners be allowed to not pay their fair share? The perfect storm of a mortgage foreclosure action coupled with a bankruptcy discharge could ultimately render an owner’s debt uncollectable, but absent the confluence of these events, very few delinquencies are uncollectable.
Recent Illinois Supreme Court decisions in Spanish Court Two and 1010 Lake Shore have recognized and respected condominium association lien rights. Associations need to take advantage of the myriad of tools available to collect delinquent assessments. Actions for possession under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, lien foreclosure and small claims actions all provide great opportunity to make associations whole. While the landscape of community association governance has changed substantially over the past few years, one truth remains: Diligent and aggressive assessment collection is a necessity. Collection of assessments is the foundation of a board’s fiduciary obligation. Associations cannot function properly when not fully funded. In the competitive residential real estate market in which we now find ourselves, buyers are becoming more discriminating. The financial health of a community is a much more substantial factor in determining whether a particular unit is desirable for purchase. If a prospective owner has the choice between purchasing a unit in a well-funded community as opposed to one with substantial delinquencies and a looming large special assessment, what decision will this individual likely make?
Boards and management should not struggle with assessment collection. A comprehensive assessment collection policy that affords the association’s counsel the opportunity to move files diligently without the need to constantly consult with the client will result in a greater success rate on delinquent files. Regular reviews of an association’s delinquencies is also a must. Boards and management should be reviewing their delinquencies minimally on a quarterly basis. Our office also welcomes the opportunity to assist boards and management in reviewing delinquencies and making recommendations as to which accounts should be pursued and whether any debts should be written-off as uncollectable. The jobs of board members and managers are complicated enough without having to be deeply engaged in the assessment collection process. Utilize your professionals and allow your attorneys to take this important element of managing an association off your plate. Don’t ignore your delinquencies. The law provides great opportunity to minimize and eliminate them.
This article is being provided for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice on the part of Keay & Costello, P.C. or any of its attorneys. No association, board member or any other individual or entity should rely on this article as a basis for any action or actions. If you would like legal advice regarding any of the topics discussed in this article and/or recommended procedures for your association going forward, please contact our office.