John Roska: Nonpayment of condo fees can bring eviction

John Roska: Nonpayment of condo fees can bring eviction

Q: My condo association says they'll evict me for non-payment of my monthly assessments. If I own my condominium, how can they evict me? I don't see how owing them money can give them the right to take my residence.

A: Condo owners can be evicted for not paying condo fees. You'll still own your condo — you just won't be able to live there. It's a hard way to find out that owning real estate doesn't always include the right to use it.

Eviction is actually one of 2 remedies a condo association has to try to collect unpaid fees. The other is foreclosing on the lien that automatically occurs when condo owners don't pay what they owe. The condo association can record that lien, and foreclose on it. Foreclosure would take away your right of possession, and your ownership rights.

But foreclosing on involuntary liens created by state law is a hassle, and expensive. An eviction case for non-payment of condo fees is usually easier and more effective.

The fees condo owners owe pay their share of their association's common expenses. While condo owners have exclusive ownership of their individual unit, they share ownership of areas outside their unit, like halls, yards, and roofs. The expense of maintaining those common areas is shared by all the condo owners.

Each owner's share of the commons expenses is set by what percentage his unit has of the total area of all the units. If a condo association has 20 identically sized units, each owner would pay 1/20th, or 5 percent, of the annual budget for commons expenses.

To avoid the bad things that happen when condo associations can't pay their bills, Illinois law specifically says associations can evict deadbeat owners.

Evicting for non-payment of condo assessments is very like a regular landlord-tenant eviction. The two main differences are that a condo owner gets 30 days to pay before an eviction case gets filed in court (instead of just 5 days), and gets another 60 to 180 days to pay after an eviction judgment is entered.

The 30-day notice starts the eviction process by stating the amount owed, and giving 30 days to pay.

If that doesn't produce full payment, the next step is filing an eviction case in court. If the condo association wins, it gets a judgment for possession against the condo owner.

But that judgment is "stayed" — it can't be enforced — for 60 to 180 days. If the owner pays up during that time (including court costs and attorney fees), the eviction is vacated. Things return to normal as if nothing happened.

This "right to cure" to undo an eviction judgment only exists in condo evictions. In "regular" evictions, tenants don't get that right.

But if the owner doesn't "cure" by paying before the deadline set in the stay, the sheriff can remove him. He still owns the unit, but can't live there any more.

Like any judgment, an eviction judgment could become a lien that could be foreclosed upon. But that's really a separate court procedure. Until then, the condo owner's still an owner, but not a resident.

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