Are you a Condo Board Member seeking to collect unpaid assessments from a Unit Owner? Your attorney will know the specifics for litigating these claims, but the steps below will give you an idea of what to expect from the process.
Choose an Avenue
First, you should choose an avenue to recover the delinquent amounts. There are generally three avenues through which you can recover delinquent assessments: (1) a breach of contract suit; (2) a lien and foreclosure process; and (3) a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit under the Illinois Condominium Property Act, 765 ILCS 605/1 et seq (“ICPA”). Because avenue 3 is generally the most efficient option, this is the only option that we will address here.
The second step in the process is to give the Unit Owner notice of delinquent assessments. Under 735 ILCS 5/9-104.1 of the ICPA, you must send a 30 day notice of the unpaid assessments via regular and certified mail to the “to the last known address of such purchaser or condominium unit owner or in case no one is in the actual possession of the premises, then by posting the same on the premises,” and the notice need not even be received. Please note that these letters are a form of debt collection, which is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) as well as the ICPA and potentially the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act (“FEDA”).
If you receive no response from the Unit Owner, cannot work out a repayment plan with the Unit Owner, or receive some payment but still wish to bring suit to recover the remaining amounts, the third step in the process would be to file a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit seeking possession and a judgment for the delinquent amounts including common expenses, unpaid fines, interest, late charges, reasonable attorney fees incurred prior to the initiation of any court action and costs of collection under 735 ILCS 5/9-104.1.
The process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the Unit Owner’s involvement and efforts to delay the case. Eventually, however, you should receive a judgment for the amounts sought and possession of the Unit from either the Unit Owner or any tenant occupying the Unit. Here, your options are to recover possession from the Unit Owner/Unknown Occupant so that you can rent the Unit yourself and collect any rent to satisfy the judgment, or seek an assignment of rent if a paying tenant is already residing in that Unit. An assignment of rent orders that the tenant pay rent to the Association rather than the Unit Owner until the Unit Owner’s delinquent amounts are paid.
This is just a general overview of one of the avenues from which you can recover delinquent assessments. Different issues are handled in different ways, and only your attorney will know the best way for you to proceed with your specific case.