September 21, 2017
Many individuals in Pennsylvania live in planned communities such as townhouses or condominiums. Association dues and assessments, as well as possible penalties and fines, are regularly due from homeowners to the association. If a homeowner fails to make payment, it could lead to liability far in excess of the amount of the actual assessment itself.
If a homeowner fails to make payment, the association is generally permitted to assess penalties and interest for nonpayment. Should non-payment continue, the association may choose to proceed with lawsuit against the homeowner to collect the unpaid assessment. In such a situation, the association will hire an attorney to represent it, at an initial cost to the association.
However, the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act and the Uniform Planned Community Act both authorize the association to receive legal costs and expenses incurred in collecting unpaid assessments. Pennsylvania court have enforced these laws and permitted attorneys fee awards far in excess of the actual assessment. In one case, the Commonwealth Court affirmed an award of over $46,000 in attorneys fees on a case involving a $1,200 assessment. In a recent case, the Commonwealth Court also affirmed an award of over $26,000 in attorneys fees on a case involving an assessment of just over $600.
Homeowners living in a condo or planned community must be cautious when failing to pay assessments as the homeowner could end up being liable for far in excess of the assessment amount. Associations should proceed with collection efforts against delinquent homeowners knowing that it will likely be awarded its attorneys fees incurred in collecting assessments.
The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances. The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.