Q&A: Who Pays in a Delinquency?

Q We have an owner in our condominium association who is several months behind in his fees. He currently has a tenant in his unit. The association pays the bill for his water, sewage, pool and other amenities. Do we as an association have the right to take any of these amenities away from the renter, and would it be possible to have the renter pay his monthly rent to the association until the delinquency is resolved?

—Aggrieved Tenant

A "The answer will depend entirely on what your state's laws,” says attorney Adam Cohen of the Bridgeport, Conn. law firm of Pullman & Comley, LLC, “and your association's declaration and bylaws, say on these subjects. Most states strictly regulate how and when utilities can be turned off to a residence for nonpayment, especially one occupied by someone other than the person responsible to pay the bills. Denying non-essential privileges such as pool access may be easier but might at least require that the board hold a hearing and invite the owner and possibly the tenant to be heard first. Claiming the tenant's monthly rental payment would almost certainly require a court-approved garnishment order in any state. Unless your association's governing documents or statutes give the board broader powers, the best strategy for your situation would probably be to foreclose the unit itself for unpaid fees and work closely with the association's attorney to make sure any related remedies are carefully considered and properly exercised."

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  • Section 718.116(11)(a), Florida Statutes: "If the unit is occupied by a tenant and the unit owner is delinquent in paying any monetary obligation due to the association, the association may make a written demand that the tenant pay to the association the subsequent rental payments and continue to make such payments until all monetary obligations of the unit owner related to the unit have been paid in full to the association." [et. seq.] Chapter 2010-174, Laws of Florida, effective July 1, 2010.