Q. We have an owner who has not paid association fees for almost 3 years. The bank that financed the unit was apparently involved in “robo signing” and the delinquent owner has successfully fought them every step of the way. Does the association have any recourse against the bank, and if so, do you think it would be worth pursuing?
A. This “strategy” is used more often than you think. In just about every community we represent that has a collections issue, there is at least one owner who aggressively fights the bank with a lawyer in an effort to stall and keep the home. It is cheaper to pay a lawyer $500.00 per month than to pay the mortgage. In almost every one of these cases, the unit owner also stops paying the association on the assumption that the association is powerless and at the mercy of the bank. This is not necessarily true. It is important to remember that there is no strong legal defense for an owner’s failure to pay the condo or homeowner’s association. The association does not have “robo signing” or other issues faced by the lending industry. If the owner cannot show a judge that he paid the association for his share of the common expenses, the association will prevail in any legal action against the owner and will be entitled to recover its legal expenses incurred in the process. Thus, we believe your focus should not be on the bank’s failures, but rather the owner’s failure to pay and the options available to correct the problem. Once your association puts the appropriate pressure on this owner who is going through great strides to fight the bank, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.