Unpaid condominium assessments can add up and cause financial difficulty for the association. When owners don't pay their assessments, the board has a right to take legal collection action against the owner and the unit to recover what is owed.

The cost of legal collections can climb very high, depending on a number of variables. Often, the total legal fees and costs exceed the amount of the original unpaid balance, and they are all chargeable back to the unit's account per IL condo law. This can make it difficult for an owner to get caught up.

Before diving into legal collections, the board should communicate with the owner about the delinquency and attempt to get an agreed payment plan in place. The agreement should be written and signed by both the owner(s) and the board, with clear consequences for failure to uphold the plan, including the right of the board to take legal collection action and, if possible, detail on what that action will cost the owner. An owner who understands that the balance may increase sharply if the account is sent to an attorney will be more motivated to stick to the agreement.

The board should allow owners an opportunity to get caught up before saddling them with additional debt. For owners who have broken payment plan promises, however, legal collection action may be necessary to protect the association's financial well-being. 

A recent decision by the Illinois appellate court has outlined clear legal requirements for executive (closed) meetings of condominium boards, particularly in regards to owner violations.

Condo boards can meet in a closed session to discuss certain matters, including owner violations of Rules and Regulations or of the Declaration and Bylaws. Unit owners do not have a right to attend or observe closed meetings. Any vote to take action on those matters must be held in an open board meeting.

Generally boards have not taken minutes of these closed meetings, however, a ruling in Boucher v. 111 East Chestnut Condominium Association has determined that condo boards must take minutes of an executive session if a quorum of the board is present. Minutes must include the following:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Attendees
  • Presence of Quorum
  • Purpose of the Closed Session
  • Time called to order and time of adjournment

For more details on the case (including some eyebrow-raising specifics on the behavior of the owner fined for violations), click here.

 

Does your condominium association have an acceleration clause in its bylaws? This nifty bit of language can help you to collect extra funds from delinquent owners so that you do not have to repeatedly take them through the collections process.

An acceleration clause allows the board to accelerate payment of the monthly assessments due from an owner through the end of the year. So if an owner falls behind in April, for example, the association can apply all of the charges that will come due from that owner through December when pursuing collection action.

This can be helpful if the association is concerned that an owner will pay what is due up through the current month but then fall behind again. Using an acceleration clause allows the association to collect from an owner in advance, and hopefully avoid a revolving door of collections. 

Need help with collections? We can help your association to collect as much as possible as quickly as possible. Get in touch with Haus Financial Services today!

Post Sposored by Relias Law Group, Ltd.
150 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 428-3016 Office

Allow me to introduce my firm. Relias Law Group, Ltd. is a boutique law firm concentrating on real estate tax appeals and assessment law. This is our first contribution to the Chicago Condo Resource blog. We hope to contribute regularly with information regarding news that impacts your real estate taxes.

The city of Chicago is undergoing its regular triennial reassessment. As such, ALL properties in the city of Chicago will receive new assessed values that will be used in calculating your 2018 real estate taxes payable in 2019. The townships receiving reassessments are as follows:

Township

Average % Change

CCAO Appeal Deadline Date

Rogers Park

+18.22%

5/23/18 (passed)

Lake View

+31.24%

6/7/18 (passed)

Hyde Park

-0.33%

7/19/18 (passed)

Jefferson

+18.63%

8/16/18

Lake

TBD

TBD

North Chicago

TBD

TBD

South Chicago

TBD

TBD

West Chicago

TBD

TBD

As you can see, the average value change varies greatly from township to township. It is important to review your assessed value immediately when it is issued to determine if your assessment is fair. Excessive assessments will result in the property owner paying an unfair portion of the real estate taxes. The appeal window before the Cook County Assessor is only open for 30 days from the time assessments are published. A “second chance” to appeal your assessment before the Cook County Board of Review will occur later this year.

Of the city of Chicago townships, currently only Jefferson Township is open for appeals. Lake, North, South and West will be opening in the upcoming weeks. If you need help in determining if you assessment is excessive, please contact us at (312) 428-3021. If you have missed the deadline or your property is located in the suburbs, contact us anyway. We may be able to fight the assessed value before the Board of Review. No one should pay more than their fair share of the county’s tax burden.

In the summertime, property sales seem to heat up along with the weather. At HausFS we see an increase in condo unit sales this time of year.

If you are listing your unit for sale and expect that a mortgage will be required of the buyer, you should be aware of a few red flags that could prevent financing in your association:

  • More than 10% of units owned by the same entity.

For investor owners in certain buildings, buying up more than one unit could be a profitable option. But if a single owner owns more than 10% of the total number of units in the building, everyone else could face a problem if they wish to sell. 

  • No current operating budget

If your association has not approved an annual budget for the current year, lenders may reject a mortgage for your buyer. Your association should pass a budget every year.

  • Budgeted reserves contribution less than 10% of overall budget

Your annual budget should show a reserves contribution that is equal to or greater than 10% of the total budgeted income for the year. This is a specific criteria that lenders review for certain types of mortgages.

  • Association is in litigation

If your association is named as a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit and currently in litigation, owners may find it hard to sell. This is particularly true if the lawsuit is related to structural problems in the building (often inherited from a bad developer). 

  • Owner delinquencies exceed 15%

If more than 15% of the total units in your association are delinquent on assessments, this often must be resolved before a lender will green light a mortgage for a buyer.

Owners who are looking to sell should be aware of these potential pitfalls before they list a unit and enter into any purchase contract. Discovering problems after an offer has been accepted means wasted time and money for all everyone involved in the transaction.

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