Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homeowners Assessments

I collect assessments for several homeowners' associations in and around Aurora. Once they're served with summons, most defendants request a monthly payment plan. But isn't that what assessments are in the first place? Monthly payment plans?

People who are sued for outstanding assessments have already shown that they are unable keep up with monthly payments. However, most of the time, that is the only option. Not everyone can just write a check for several thousand dollars on the spot. Also, the associations do not have an interest in pushing forward with full blown collections because that would drive people right into foreclosure.

So, I will usually enter into a payment plan with the defendant. What usually happens, though, is that the defendant satisfies the original judgment amount over a period of several months, but by that time he or she delinquent again in the current assessments. In these situations, there is the potential for a never-ending cycle of continuous lawsuits. As soon as they pay-off the old judgment, we are ready to file suit again.

Luckily, the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act addresses this problem. Section 111 of the Act applies to any property subject to the provisions of the Condominium Property Act (which includes most homeowners associations). Section 111 provides that money judgments shall not be vacated until "the defendant pays such expenses found due by the court, and costs,and reasonable attorney's fees as fixed by the court, and the defendant is not in arrears on his or her share of the common expenses for the period subsequent to that covered by the judgment."

Under Section 111, the association does not have to file a whole new lawsuit. The association can institute collections under the old case number until the current assessments are caught up. This is an economical way to keep the expenses and attorney's fees down so that the homeowners can get caught up.

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