Condo Media - January 2013 - (Page 28)

HOMEOWNER’S CORNER Assessment Payments Top Excuses for Non-Payment ssociation members who pay their assessments late or not at all come up with some very interesting excuses. Here are the top five excuses, and why it’s smart not to use them. A Excuse #1: “I didn’t get what I paid for.” “My building hasn’t been painted in five years! I’m not paying another cent until some basic maintenance gets done.” “The power was out for three days during the storm. I’m withholding a pro-rated amount from my assessment check.” You have a right to require the association to perform its duties and various legal channels exist to accomplish that. Withholding assessments is not one of them. Your obligation to pay assessments has nothing to do with the association’s obligations to provide maintenance and service. If you withhold your check or pay a reduced amount, you’ll become delinquent, and that leads to late fees, making your situation worse and in some cases could lead to the association foreclosing on your condominium. budget to owners annually. When the association approves and sends the budget each year to members, it contains notice of the amount of the assessment payment. If owners are ever unsure about the amount or the due dates, they should contact the board or management office. Excuse #3: “You can’t do that!” “These people have no right to make me pay for neighborhood upkeep.” “If they think I’m paying those outrageous late fees and interest, they’re crazy.” Actually, the association not only has the authority, it has a duty to all owners to collect assessments. This authority is established in the governing documents and the state’s common interest ownership statutes. When you moved into a community association, you agreed to abide by those documents — and that includes paying assessments. Many residents move into communities specifically for the recreational amenities; they’re willing to pay for them because they take full advantage of the opportunities they provide. Even if you’re not using some of the amenities, they make the community more desirable and the homes in the community more valuable. If you’re not using the facilities, perhaps you should consider whether the community is the best fit for you and your needs. Excuse #5: “The fees are too high.” Assessments reflect the actual cost of maintaining all common elements in the community. If you owned your home outside the association, you would have to pay individually for all the same expenses your assessments cover — trash removal, water, landscaping and so on. In fact, you’re probably spending less on assessments because the association may have bulk buying power, and you’re getting more because the common areas may provide amenities that you likely could not afford on your own. Excuse #4: “I never use the recreational facilities.” “I don’t play golf, and it’s an expensive game. I shouldn’t have to pay to maintain the course.” “I’ve never been in the fitness center, and I don’t plan to ever use it. Why can’t you pro-rate my assessments accordingly?” Admittedly, recreational facilities are expensive to operate and — for some associations — represent a good chunk of the budget. Nevertheless, most declarations specify that even if you don’t use the association’s amenities you’re still obligated to pay for their upkeep. Legitimate Reasons, Not Excuses When association members lose their jobs or become injured or ill, association boards should understand that arrangements may need to be worked out for paying assessments. If owners have a legitimate reason for falling behind and need to work out a payment plan they should contact the board or manager. The board should consider each situation individually, and attempt to accommodate special circumstances if possible. CM Excuse #2: “You didn’t bill me.” “I didn’t get an invoice.” “You didn’t tell me I was behind in my payments.” Many association-governing documents neither require the association to send invoices nor to provide advance notice of payments due or past due. However, associations are required to send the approved 28 CONDO MEDIA • JANUARY 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - January 2013

Condo Media - January 2013
From the CED’s Desk
President’s Message
CAI News
CAI Regional News
Asked & Answered
Homeowner’s Corner
Vendor Spotlight
Industry Perspective
Self-Managed Association Boards
Classified Service Directory
Advertisers Index

Condo Media - January 2013