Assessment collection is a primary focus in our law firm, as we understand that our client’s finances are the lifeblood of the community
Upon receipt of a unit history and client request, we will, within 24 hours, prepare and send the statutorily-required demand letter to a delinquent owner. At the deadline for payment, if payment is not received, we automatically proceed, preparing and recording a Claim of Lien and sending the second statutorily-required letter together with the Claim of Lien. We recommend, but ultimately our clients decide, to allow payment agreements with delinquent unit owners (which can improve a community’s cash flow), but should the owner default on these agreements, or fail to otherwise pay the delinquent sums due, we move forward to the next step which is, generally, foreclosure. We notify our clients and obtain approval prior to filing a foreclosure action, but because we do not generally invoice our clients for legal fees and costs for demand letters and claims of lien, we request a quick approval of the foreclosure action, when appropriate, to improve the potential of collecting funds from the delinquent unit owner.
Save Time & Money
With banking institutions having become a large focus in all aspects of community association representation, including assessment collection, Straley | Otto feels it is of the utmost importance that collection matters move rapidly toward conclusion for the greatest protection of the client’s rights. We have several creative approaches to banks involved in REO sales, and clients are not always limited to the presumed statutorily-reduced liability of banks (the lesser of 1% of the original, principal loan amount or one year’s assessments). We also, with client approval, set hearings in a bank’s foreclosure action, to push the action forward toward a final judgment, because, often, the sooner the bank’s foreclosure case is concluded on a unit, the sooner assessment income will recommence from that unit. In other instances, however, where a client owns and is renting a unit on which it had foreclosed, we can assert the client’s rights in the bank’s foreclosure action, which may extend the time that the association will be able to lease the unit, and thereby assist the client in maximizing the rental income from that unit. We have also, in appropriate circumstances, had success for clients in actions to “quiet title” on units which they obtained through foreclosure. In these actions, we have eliminated mortgages clouding a client’s title to its unit, allowing our client to own the unit free-and-clear of the first mortgage and sell the unit without payment to the first mortgage holder. This option has been limited through recent Court decisions.
In addition to the foregoing, Straley | Otto recognizes that there are other methods, which are better suited given the right circumstances, of securing payments from delinquent unit owners. For instance, at times a delinquent unit owner may have a tenant in his or her unit from whom the owner is collecting monthly rent without the payment of any sums to our client. In such situations, we assist our clients in securing the payment of rent directly from the tenants of the delinquent owners. Further, where the situation is appropriate, we can assist our clients in obtaining the Court-appointment of a receiver to collect rent from a number of delinquent unit owners in the community and, at times, even rent vacant units of delinquent owners.