Pay Up! The Subtle Art Of Collecting Arrears

 In the tough economic environment we've been struggling through over the past  few years, many condo owners have faced job loss, pay cuts, or just financial  uncertainty. Unfortunately, the sign of the times sometimes leads to an owner  not paying their common charges.  

 “I definitely say that in the last five years, owners not paying assessments and  being delinquent has become a problem,” says Gail Filkowski, CMCA, director of sales and marketing at American  Community Management in Schaumburg. “Five years ago, management companies were inundated with requests for paid  assessment letters and sales packets. Today we are constantly sending out late  notices and records to the attorney for collections. And if you even wanted to  go back 5 to 10 years ago, I didn't really see many line items in budgets for  bad debt, while today we have to encourage a lot of communities with high  delinquencies to budget for an amount that they simply aren't going to get in  assessment payments.”  

 A tough job market may be the biggest reason for late or skipped payments.  

 “I think that job loss is the most common reason for people to stop paying  assessments,” says Filkowski. “They're kind of forced to choose what bills to pay, and assessments are at the  bottom of the list after groceries, utilities, and car payments. Also today  with so many foreclosures happening, homeowners will frequently just stop  paying assessments as well. They think making an assessment payment might be  pointless if they're eventually going to lose their home to foreclosure, which  is frustrating for a property manager because a lot of homeowners don't quite  understand that, actually, the consequences of not paying your assessments can  lead to the association obtaining an order of possession, and if they actually  want to follow through, evicting that homeowner a lot faster. Then, that  homeowner might lose their home in a foreclosure,”  

 Communication & Consistency

 Associations should have a written procedure that is disseminated to everyone so  that residents know exactly the way things are done—and more importantly, that things are done consistently for all unit owners.  


Related Articles

Q&A: When an Owner Who Owes HOA Fees Is Now Bankrupt

Q&A: When an Owner Who Owes HOA Fees Is Now Bankrupt

Q&A: One Space or Two?

Q&A: One Space or Two?

Don’t Raid the Cookie Jar

Capital Budgeting is Essential



  • Great post! I am currently going tohgurh the process of hiring a an agency to collect final payments from a few clients. I own a commercial painting business, and want to make sure I choose a reputable company that I feel comfortable with going out on my behalf. Especially with the bad rap that collection agencies usually carry. I received several price quotes from but as far as getting the information you suggested above, is that something that companies will typically disclose? Is there anything else I should worry about when hiring an agency?