CONDOMINIUM LIENS: WHAT EVERY CONDOMINIUM OWNER SHOULD KNOW
If you are a member of a condominium association, or thinking about purchasing a condominium, it is important that you understand condominium assessments and liens. Condominium associations typically have monthly assessments, which is a monthly payment that each member makes to the association. Monthly assessments are used by the association to maintain common areas, which are areas in the association where all members share an ownership interest. This could be a lobby, pool, or garden.
A condominium may also assess a special assessment. This special assessment is usually a way for an association to pay for a large repair or improvement project, the cost of which the monthly assessments would not cover.
Associations provide themselves the power to collect monthly and special assessments when they are formed. Condominium formation includes the drafting of a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“Declaration”). If you own a condominium, you should familiarize yourself with your association’s Declaration. If you are planning to purchase a condominium unit, you will receive a copy of the association’s Declaration prior to the actual closing.
The Declaration will almost always allow the association to set monthly and special assessments that each member of the association must pay. In addition, the Declaration will nearly certainly state that any individual that owns property included in the association is an association member, and responsible for payment of the monthly and special assessment. Finally, the Declaration will provide processes that the association can use to collect unpaid monthly and special assessments from its members.
Although the Declaration provides for an association’s collection means, association collection of unpaid assessments is also supported by Illinois law. The Illinois Condominium Property Act (765 ILCS 605/9(g)) states that any unpaid monthly or special assessments that are unpaid by a unit owner, shall be a lien on that unit owner’s property. The amount of the lien includes interest, late charges, and attorney fees that the association spends in an effort to collect the unpaid assessments.
The association’s lien on your property is superior (prior in right) to any other liens recorded against your property, except 1) your first mortgage and 2) any unpaid local, state, or federal taxes. If you have a second mortgage on the property, the association’s lien can obtain priority over that mortgage if it meets certain requirements within the Illinois Condominium Property Act.
If you have a condominium lien on your property, you will want to resolve it by paying the unpaid assessments. Otherwise, you will not be able to sell your condominium, or the association may foreclose its lien and be entitled to even more interest, late charges, and attorney fees for which you will be responsible.
Planning on buying or selling a condominium? Or concerned about a condominium lien on your property? Local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy real estate and estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.