Condo Media - July 2013 - (Page 24)

HOMEOWNER’S COLUMN NAME CORNER Excuses, Excuses Why Members Won’t Pay A ssociation members who pay their assessments late or not at all come up with some very interesting excuses. Here’s half a dozen of the most common, and why it’s smart not to use them. 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 this. Withholding assessments is not one of them. If you withhold your check or pay a reduced amount, you’ll become delinquent, and that leads to late fees, possible foreclosure, and ultimately a worse situation. 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 provide advance notice of payments due or past due. However, associations are required to send the approved budget to each owner annually. When the association approves and sends the budget each year to members, it contains notice of the amount owners must pay annually. If you’re ever unsure about the amount or the due dates, you should contact the board and/or management company. 24 CONDO MEDIA • JULY 2013 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. 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. Many residents move into a community 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: “I paid in full.” Sometimes the association receives a check that says “paid in full” in the memo section — but it isn’t. Or the check will arrive with a letter or note, stating the check is “payment in full,” or it covers all charges through a certain date. Nice try. If you still have an outstanding balance, your check is likely going to be returned to you. This will put you further behind in your payments and just cause more late fees. Excuse #6: “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 may actually be spending less on assessments because the association may have bulk buying power, and you may be getting more because the common areas provide amenities that you likely could not afford on your own. Legitimate Reasons, not Excuses When association members lose their jobs or become injured or ill, the association board should understand that arrangements need to be worked out for paying assessments. If you have a legitimate reason for falling behind and you need to work out a payment plan, members should contact the association and/or management company. The board should consider each situation individually, and attempt to accommodate special circumstances if possible. CM

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

Condo Media - July 2013
Contents
From the CED’s Desk
President’s Message
CAI News
CAI Regional News
Asked & Answered
Homeowner’s Corner
Reserves
Volunteer Spotlight
Vendor Spotlight
Finance
Banking
Operations
2013 CAI-NE Financial-Reserves Directory
Classified Service Directory
Advertisers Index

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