Posted on February 7, 2020 8:58 AM by Melissa Gentry
Association members who pay their assessments late or not at all come up with some very interesting excuses. Here’s half a dozen of the most common, and why it’s smart not to use them.
Excuse #1: “I didn’t get what I paid for.”
“My building hasn’t been painted in five years! I’m not paying another cent until some basic maintenance gets done.”
“The gate has been broken multiple times this year. I’m withholding a pro-rated amount from my assessment check.”
You have a right to require the association to perform its duties, and various legal channels exist to accomplish this. Withholding assessments is not one of them. Your obligation to pay assessments has nothing to do with the association’s obligations to provide maintenance and service. If you withhold your check or pay a reduced amount, you’ll become delinquent, and that leads to late fees, and actually makes your situation worse.
Excuse #2: “You didn’t bill me.”
“I didn’t get an invoice.”
“You didn’t tell me I was behind in my payments.”
Many association governing documents neither require the association to send invoices nor provide advance notice of payments due or past due. However its a common practice to send a statement even if its not required. Ultimately the responsibility falls to the owner to pay whether or not "it got lost in the mail". If you’re ever unsure about the amount or the due dates, just call the management office.
Excuse #3: “You can’t do that!”
“These people have no right to make me pay for neighborhood upkeep.”
“If they think I’m paying those outrageous late fees and interest, they’re crazy.”
Actually, the association not only has the authority, it has a duty to all owners to collect assessments. This authority is established in the governing documents and the state’s common interest ownership statutes. When you moved into a community association, you agreed to abide by those documents—and that includes paying assessments.
Excuse #4: “I never use the recreational facilities.”
“I don’t play golf, and it’s an expensive game. I shouldn’t have to pay to maintain the course.”
“I’ve never been in the fitness center, and I don’t plan to ever use it. Why can’t you pro-rate my assessments accordingly?”
Admittedly, recreational facilities are expensive to operate and—for some associations—represent a good chunk of the budget. Nevertheless, most declarations specify that even if you don’t use the association’s amenities you’re still obligated to pay for their upkeep.
Many of our residents moved into this community specifically for the recreational amenities; they’re willing to pay for them because they take full advantage of the opportunities they provide. Even if you’re not using some of the amenities, they make the community more desirable and the homes in the community more valuable. If you’re not using the facilities, perhaps you should consider whether this community is the best fit for you and your needs.
Excuse #5: “I paid in full.”
Sometimes the association receives a check that says “paid in full” in the memo section—but it isn’t. Or the check will arrive with a letter or note, stating the check is “payment in full,” or it covers all charges through a certain date. Nice try. If you still have an outstanding balance, we’re not going to cash your check. We’re going to return it to you. This will put you further behind in your payments and just cause more late fees.
Excuse #6: “The fees are too high.”
Assessments reflect the actual cost of maintaining all common elements in the community. If you owned your home outside the association, you would have to pay individually for all the same expenses your assessments cover—trash removal, water, landscaping, and so on. In fact, you’re actually spending less on assessments because the association has bulk buying power, and you’re getting more because the common areas provide amenities that you likely could not afford on your own.
Legitimate Reasons, not Excuses
Everyone goes through tough financial periods when the bills start accumulating and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer. But, as is most often the case, those times pass and through determination and careful financial planning we are able to get back on our financial "feet" once again. During those challenging periods it is often tempting to avoid meeting certain financial obligations in order to meet others. However, when deciding which bills to "juggle" and which to pay remember that your monthly association dues are just as important as your mortgage payment. If you don't pay your mortgage, you will eventually lose your home. Likewise, if you don't pay your monthly assessment, the association has the right to foreclose on your property and sell it. More importantly however, is that should you let your assessment become delinquent, in order to bring your account current, you will have to pay more than the original monthly assessment amount. Late fees, interest charges and if applicable various administrative and legal fees must also be paid.
When association members lose their jobs or become injured or ill, the association board understands that arrangements need to be worked out for paying assessments. If you have a legitimate reason for falling behind and you need to work out a payment plan, please send an email with specific dates and amounts you are requesting. The board considers each situation individually, and will to try to accommodate your special circumstances. The bottom line: Don't juggle your monthly assessment payment. Pay on time and avoid paying more (and possibly losing more!) in the long run.
Posted on January 3, 2020 12:22 PM by Melissa Gentry
In order to meet its financial obligations, our association depends upon the timely receipt of our assessments from the owners. When our community's budget is approved by the Board, it assumes two things: the amount of income must equal the amount of expenses, and, that each homeowner will pay his or her maintenance assessment in a timely manner. If one or the other fails to happen, we have a cash-flow problem and it usually results in costing all of us more money in the long run.
Our communities depend entirely upon the assessments to pay its bills (insurance, landscapers, water, electricity, gas, management, etc.). Whenever homeowners are delinquent in paying their assessments it creates a "cash-flow shortage" that may prevent the association from paying it's bills in a timely manner. There is no other source of income available to make up for the shortage. If we "borrow" money from the reserves to pay for operating expenses, we are required to pay it back, thus we create even more expenses.
Ultimately, when even a few homeowners fail to pay their assessments on time it ends up costing us all more. That is because since most of our expenses are pre-determined, the only way to make up for a cash-flow problem is to increase the amount of money coming in, or in other words, raise our assessment amount. We can all take part in keeping our community's expenses down, and one of the best ways is to make sure that your assessment check is sent on time!
Posted on December 5, 2019 12:05 PM by Melissa Gentry
The holidays are just around the corner, and for many people, that means lots of festivities with friends and loved ones. With all of the merriment that’s sure to ensue, it’s important that residents who are hosting celebrations are not only considerate of their neighbors, but also take note of the association’s rules. A complete listing of our association rules and regulations can be found in our Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), but here are a few key items to look up that are particularly pertinent during the holiday season:
Outdoor Decorations: Decking the halls with seasonal ornaments is a great way to bring the holiday spirit home. Many love to spread the joy by decorating the outside of their homes and front yards as well, but before you scurry up that ladder to hang the decorative lights along the side of your roof, take a quick peek at the CC&Rs to find out the guidelines for outdoor decorations, as well as the guidelines for flags and signs if you plan on decorating with those. This will help make sure your outdoor winter wonderland isn’t an association violation.
Parties: We hope you all have plenty of chances to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season. If you plan on hosting a large get-together or party, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, keep the revelry and noise to a minimum, and wind the party down at a reasonable time—you don’t want your celebrating to interfere with your neighbors’ attempts to get visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Check your CC&Rs to find out what the association deems acceptable noise levels and what the quiet hours are, as well as guidelines for hosting parties.
Parking: The holidays bring many people together, and that means extra cars will need to be parked. To make sure your guests are covered, look at the CC&Rs to find out the rules on visitor parking in the association, including where they can park and what kind of parking passes they may need.
Overnight Guests: It wouldn’t be the holidays without Uncle Marv and Aunt Ethel bunking in little Jimmy’s room. Of course, depending on how long your overnight guests are staying, you may need to let the association know. The CC&Rs will give you a breakdown on the rules for both short-term and long-term guests, so take a look at them before you break out the extra cot.
Following the association’s rules and regulations helps ensure that all of our residents can enjoy this special time of year, so please help us by doing your part. Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.