Unlike housing developments, many of which are governed by a homeowner’s association, condominium projects are typically governed by condominium associations.
A condominium association consists of a legal organization of all the condo owners in the development, who work together to enact, oversee and enforce a set of rules that ensures that the property values of the condominiums are sustained and that the neighborhood is well-kept, well-run, and maintained.
How Are Condo Associations Formed?
Forming a condo association is similar to creating a homeowner’s association. The owners of the condos come together and create an internal board, where they elect certain board members to oversee specific duties of the association. Being a board member is generally a volunteer and unpaid position, which sometimes results in the condominium association contracting with a management company to help oversee the day-to-day tasks.
These tasks can include things such as: collecting dues, negotiating contracts, overseeing general maintenance and enforcing the condominium association’s rules.
In most cases, existing and new condo owners in the project are required to become a member of the condo association. During the purchase or lease of a unit, new members will generally be bound by the community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), and will be obligated to pay any associated dues in a timely and diligent manner.
From time to time, certain members may renege on their agreement for one reason or another, and may fail to pay dues; or may be facing financial hardships that force the sale of their home or cause it to go into foreclosure (for owners); or renters may enter in the eviction process if rent is not paid.
When an owner stops making due payments, the condo association can place something called a “lien” on the property for any monies and fees owed in arrears in an attempt to force a collection activity to bring the account back to current standing.
What are condo association liens in Arizona and how can they be resolved? We’ll provide some helpful insights to give you a better idea of what to expect.
What Are Condo Association Liens in Arizona?
A condo association lien in Arizona is a tool that is used to enforce the obligations, or assessments, of tenants and owners who are residing in the project.
When a homeowner is delinquent on payments owed for their assessments, the condo association can issue something to them called a “Notice of Delinquent Assessment;” commonly also referred to as an “assessment lien.”
The lien is also filed with the local county recorder’s office, so that it becomes a legally binding document that is enforceable.
To break this down into the easiest terms: Liens are tools that are used to ensure that a debt owed that is related to a property can be legally collected before the homeowner can lease or sell the property.
In other words: If a condo association places an assessment lien on a unit, that owner would have to resolve their obligations of the lien at the time of a sale or before offering a new lease.
What if you don’t pay it? If the lien remains unpaid for a certain period of time, it can potentially be judicially foreclosed on by the condo association to remedy the past due debt.
The good news is that getting a condo association lien resolved is a relatively straightforward process that can prevent a foreclosure.
Obtaining Release of a Condo Association Lien in Arizona
You have a few options when looking for a solution here, but the most common one is apparent: Tender the full amount that is due, including any late fees, collection costs, interest payments and past due assessment fees. Keep in mind that depending on where in the collection process the lien is, there may also be attorney fees that are owed, too.
Once the condo association has been paid in full, including any penalties and attorney fees, the association will record this with the County Recorder, filing something called a “lien release.” The condo association will be required to provide the condo owner with any documentation that verifies that the lien has been released.
If the lien on the condo is contested, or if the homeowner believes it was placed in error or the amount owed is erroneous, they can contest this lien by providing adequate documentation to the condo association.
It’s always wise to consider all of your legal options in advance, including seeking advice from Arizona real estate lawyers that have experience dealing with condo associations and homeowner’s associations.
If the lien is deemed to be unfounded, the condo association will be forced to swiftly release the lien and any associated fees from the account of the homeowner.
Find An Experienced Phoenix Condo Association Lawyer
The attorneys at MacQueen & Gottlieb have significant experience with real estate law in Arizona. Our attorneys can assist you with any issues and help you understand your rights. If you are experiencing issues with a condo association, our attorneys can assist you in pursuing that case. Contact us today at (602) 726-2229 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.