Q&A: Can Delinquent Owner Run for the Board?

Q I am the president of an association in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. We have been  under the impression that if an owner is delinquent in paying a monthly fee  that an automatic lien is created on the property, thus preventing such owner  from voting on association matters and stopping him/her from running for a  trustee position. Is this correct or must there be language in our documents  stating the same?  

 —Laying Down the Law  

A Attorney Clive D. Martin of the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP in Boston, says, “There are really two questions here. Firstly, as regards the association’s lien on the unit: the Condominium Act, M.G.L. chapter 183A, section 6(a)(1)  provides that the condominium association has an automatic lien on a unit for  any common expense assessment levied against that unit from the time the  assessment becomes due. Subsection (c) of section 6 provides that the lien is  perfected when the master deed of the condominium is recorded. However, even  though the lien is automatically perfected at the time the master deed is  recorded, and becomes effective whenever payment falls due, if a unit owner  defaults in paying common area charges the association still has to enforce its  lien by means of a lien action under section 6(c) of the statute. This requires  the familiar enforcement process: letter notification of amount due after  60-days delinquency, 30-day notice letter prior to initiation of lawsuit,  followed by lien enforcement action in the Superior Court or District Court.  

 “All of the foregoing procedures regarding the lien are written into the statute.  As to the association’s ability to prevent a delinquent owner from voting or running as trustee, no  such provisions are found in the statute. The place for such additional  restrictive provisions is in the condominium’s documents. The statute (section 6(c)) specifically provides that an  association may adopt or amend its master deed, trust, by-laws or rules and  regulations “to provide additional protections, remedies, or rights for said organization.” That is where the bar to a delinquent owner’s voting or running for office or holding office is to be found, and if it is  not in the condo docs then the association cannot apply that remedy. The  association always has the option of amending the condo docs by vote of the  owners, or— which is probably more easily accomplished—the trustees can vote to incorporate the rule as one of the rule and regulations  of the association.”  


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