There are many reasons why your community association might have delinquencies. There are times when people run into circumstances in their lives. Bad luck and tragedy can visit anybody without warning. Ill fortune has many ways of finding people and affecting their ability to pay. It could be personal health issues or a downturn in the economy. Then there are matters of character. There are some who will go to great lengths to conjure a reason not to pay. The fact of the matter is There’s No Excuse for Not Paying Assessments
Of course, these ‘reasons’ are almost all completely irrational. They are not based on the principles by which business should be conducted. You will hear them everyday ad nauseum. There is an endless supply of excuses, but here are some of the most common, and responses you can use when you hear them:
“I did not consent to be a member of the community association.”
Nearly all community associations, be they HOA, POA, Condo or Co-Op are mandatory membership. Buying a home in the community means you implicitly consented to be a member of the community.
“The board of directors are stealing by misappropriating maintenance fees.”
Not a valid reason to deny contractual maintenance fees. There are other actions an owner can take, such as speaking at a board meeting or running for the board.
“The services in the community association are not acceptable.”
Also not a valid reason to deny payment.
“Why should I pay for amenities that I don’t use?”
Maintenance fees cover more than simple amenities. The community’s budget, and thus ability to pay for services such as trash pickup, maintenance of common ground, and repair of community property all comes from these assessments.
“No one ever told me I have to pay.”
This is like people who think the laws don’t apply to them because they didn’t know about them. By purchasing a home in a community association, they are bound to follow the rules set forth in the governing documents, period.
“I have a neighbor who is not paying and nothing is happening to them. Why should I pay?”
One has no bearing on the other. It is the Board of Directors’ responsibility to enforce the rules, not individual owners.
“I missed a few payments and the association sent me to a lawyer and now instead of owing $500.00 I owe the association $5,000.00 because of legal fees.”
Many states have a provision that payments should go toward assessments first, and other fees second. So even if the homeowner owes legal fees, they should still be able to pay their continuing assessments.
These are just a a sampling of the excuses people will use to avoid paying their dues. The bottom line is that nothing affords an owner the right to withhold payment. Assessments must be paid just like the mortgage needs to be paid. Try telling a bank that you are not paying your mortgage. Tell the bank you did not like their customer service and see if they agree.
Regardless of the excuse, when people stop contributing, the good-paying owners suffer. If just one owner does not pay, all the others will have to cover their contribution.
Mitch Drimmer is a respected thought leader in his field and has led numerous continuing education classes in collections, His articles have been published in key trade journals and newspapers, and he is a speaker at educational seminars. Drimmer is also a former board member of the Florida Community Association Professionals (FCAP) and earned his company the distinguished FCAP Reader’s Choice Award for collections four years in a row. Throughout his career, Drimmer has worked with community associations to help them see their way through tough times, especially during the real estate crash. He is a passionate advocate for community associations and has participated in the legislative process over the years trying to bring fair and equitable legislation that serves community associations.
Drimmer earned a BA in History from Hunter College and served as CEO of Drimmer Industries, Inc. in New York City for 35 years.