Q&A: Refusal to Pay

In a situation wherein a person refuses to pay maintenance fees, what can be done? Every time we ask whether we can cut off snow removal from the person's driveway, we are told that it could be considered a 'grey area.' What if the person slips and falls? Will they sue the snow removal company? Will they sue management? We asked counsel if we could put up a notice on the main entry doorway to alert others of the person's default, hopefully embarrassing them into paying, but we were then told that this too could be a grey area. We have also gotten notice that this home has gone into foreclosure but it's taking an extremely long time. It has been almost three years. The person does not even work, so we cannot garnish wages. They are not tenants, so we cannot have them evicted. They will not take phone calls. They ignore every effort. We hired a collection company, only to see it give up. What can we and others in this type of situation do?

—Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“The association can commence its own foreclosure,” Melissa A. Volet, a shareholder attorney at the law firm of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville. “The association may complete its foreclosure action long before the bank completes its foreclosure action. While the association’s foreclosure is pending, there are additional collection options available to pursue. Does the unit owner park a vehicle in a common area parking lot? If so, you can tow the unit owner’s vehicle. Is the unit owner’s vehicle owned or leased? If owned, you can levy the vehicle, and it would be sold at auction. We find this combination of collection efforts to be an effective approach. You can discuss these methods with association counsel to ensure they are carried out in full compliance with statutes and association’s governing documents.”

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  • Hello, I am in New Jersey and my situation is a little different. We have an owner who is in arrears for 6 months of maintenance payments and has paying tenants in his condo unit. Just two months of rent would catch him up to his obligation but he refuses to pay more than one month's maintenance at a time, keeping his arrears at the six month mark. I understand that New York has Real Property Law Section 339-aa or 339-kk, which allows a board to collect rent from a delinquent owner's renters until the amount in arrears has been satisfied. Does this same type of law exist in New Jersey? Thank you.
  • Ask you condo attorney to send him letters and then find out when it's appropriate to have the courts put a lien on the property
  • "you can tow the unit owner’s vehicle. Is the unit owner’s vehicle owned or leased? If owned, you can levy the vehicle, and it would be sold at auction." Where did you get your law degree? You cannot take someone's car and hold it hostage...are you out of your mind? Unless you have a lien on the vehicle, you can't just go around taking vehicles legally parked in common areas.