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THE RIGHTS OF AN HOA…ASSESSMENT AND POSSESSION

THE RIGHTS OF AN HOA…ASSESSMENT AND POSSESSION
By Mike DeSantis

If you reside in a single-family residential, condominium or townhome community with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), you are no stranger to HOA assessments.
HOA assessments cover a variety of items, depending on the living community and the priorities of the HOA Board.

In multi-unit dwellings like a condominium complex or high rise, HOA assessments cover such expenses as upkeep of common areas like hallways, elevators, rooftops or even amenities like the fitness room, pool, etc. and even social events.

Communities of single-family residences may use assessment fees for covering fences, gates, landscaping, mowing, golf courses, clubhouses, pools, snow removal on common areas and even social events.

The responsibility for collecting the annual assessments typically falls to the HOA board, a group of elected representative owners who make sure all residents are following association rules and regulations, or the management company. The board votes on and approves any changes of the assessment or needs for special assessments for projects, improvements, etc. Any assessment above the normal is usually approved by the board or voted upon with a quorum, depending on the regulations in the bylaws of the HOA that were set up when the association was established.

When you purchase your home within the HOA community, you agree to the payment of the assessment. If you don’t pay the assessment on time, your HOA has the right to take action to collect from you. The steps they can take become progressively more serious. Although an HOA’s options include liens and foreclosures, actions leading to eviction are most common.

STEP ONE: LATE FEE ASSESSMENT – Most residents are notified of a late charge when they receive their initial assessment non-payment notice. If the assessment is not paid on time, you will receive a letter demanding the late fee. Next, if you do not pay the assessment, the HOA has the right to issue a demand notice.

STEP TWO: ISSUE A DEMAND NOTICE – The demand notice requires the owner to pay the assessment within a certain period of time. The letter is usually sent by certified and regular mail by the attorney or association management office but the notice is still effective if the recipient does not sign for it. The demand letter must give a period of time in which the owner must submit the assessments. This must be a minimum of 30 days but can be longer depending on the HOA’s bylaws and approval by the HOA board.

STEP THREE: FILE AN EVICTION – If no payment is received within the time period specified on the demand notice, an HOA has the right to pursue an eviction in Illinois and after completing the process in court, be granted possession of the unit, even though the ownership has not changed. Also, the HOA can be granted a money judgment in court before taking possession of the property. The HOA can then rent it out and put someone in the unit until the rent is recouped to cover the amount of assessments owed.

Although HOAs should get a qualified attorney involved in the collection of assessments, cases are often filed but they do not all result in possession of the property. In the case where the owner is renting, the HOA can receive a judgment and step in as the new landlord and collect rent from the tenant until the assessments is are paid off.

Unlike some legal matters associated with an HOA, the payment of the assessment is difficult to dispute. Since you have essentially entered into an agreement upon purchasing a property subject to an HOA where you will pay the assessments, it is important to make sure you do it!

If you are an HOA board member facing units with delinquent assessments or a resident with difficulty paying your assessment, the attorneys at Gardi & Haught may be able to help. Click below for a free case evaluation.

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