Q. Our homeowners association has imposed $1,500 in fines against a homeowner for several different violations that have not been cured. The yard has not been landscaped for months, and the roof needs pressure washing. The owner did not pay the fines and our board is considering a lawsuit in small claims court to collect. Is this a good idea, and are there better alternatives?
A. Small claims court can result in a money judgment against the owner for the unpaid fines, but your lawsuit also should include a claim for an injunction against the owner. An injunction can result in a court order against the owner requiring that the necessary maintenance work be performed, and failing to obey the court order can result in contempt of court. The amount of the fines also provides a window to potentially put a lien on the home. While the condominium statute does not allow fines to become a lien on a unit, the homeowners association statute provides that fines of less than $1,000 cannot become a lien. If your association really wants to be aggressive in its collection efforts here, and also apply additional pressure to get the necessary work done, your board should consider filing a lien for the unpaid fines.