Condo/HOA Collections 101: Payment Plans

In good times and bad people fall behind on their obligations and require some time to sort out their finances. This happens often in condos and HOAs and the best solution is to offer an owner who has fallen behind a payment plan.

What is a Payment Plan?

A payment plan is a simple document where an owner promises to make payments to the association. These payments should include payments that come due during the time of the payment plan. The idea is that if somebody owes money today and enters a payment plan, they will arrive at a zero balance in a set amount of time.  Sounds easy, and it should be but there are some questions that people have so let us get right down to it.

  • Payment plans should be realistic and fit into a family’s economy.
  • Payment plans should be over a reasonable amount of time.
    • Payment plans that stretch out will ultimately fail.
  • Payment plans should spell out all the details of what is expected of the delinquent owner and the association.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers regarding Payment Plans. Some of these questions come from the board, some the homeowners, and of course, there are some general questions.

How Payment Plans Work

How do payment plans for HOA and Condos work?

When a delinquent owner comes to the conclusion that they want to come up to date they can contact their management company or if they are in collections the collection agency to engage a plan that ultimately resolves the debt. This is done through incremental payments over a set period.

What is an example of a typical HOA or Condo payment plan?

The formula to calculate a payment plan is quite simple: The amount owed, divided by the number of payments allowed by the community documents (or alternately, the amount owed divided by the amount the debtor is able to pay each month). The payment plan should take into account what they owe and the time given to pay the debt down. Once that time is complete and all the payments are made the result should be in a zero balance.

So if a unit owner owes $2000, and the association documents specify that a payment plan must be resolved within 1 year, then the monthly payment would be $2,000/12=$166.67 per month. If the documents do not specify payment plan terms, and the debtor is only able to pay $100/month, then the payment plan terms would be 20 months ($2000/100=20).

Are there any laws that govern payment plans for HOA or Condo Assessments?

Yes, in certain states before any collection actions can be taken the association must offer a delinquent owner a chance to enter into a payment plan. Many communities have payment plans outlined in their collections policy (and if your community doesn’t, your board may wish to adopt one – here is a sample uniform collections policy) that may further define how payment plans can work in that association. So be sure to check both your state statutes and the community’s governing documents.

Payment Plan Questions from Association Boards of Directors

What are the standard terms for HOA or Condo payment plans?

A payment plan must be reasonable for both the delinquent owner and the association. A payment plan going as far as five (5) years is unreasonable and really should not be considered. The standard is a twelve (12) month payment plan.

If the board agrees to a payment plan, does it need to be filed publicly?

It is not necessary to file a payment plan with a court. This is an agreement between the delinquent owner and the association and its agents.

Can a payment plan include late fines, legal costs, and other fees?

Yes, they can and should include all fees that have been legally assessed up to the date that the payment plan commences.

Can the board publish a list of homeowners who are on a payment plan for delinquent assessments?

No, you shouldn’t ever publish this sort of list, whether the debtors are on a payment plan or not. While the administration of a community association should maintain a roster of units on a payment plan there is no reason to publish such a list. Publishing a list for public distribution can cause not only legal liability but confrontation. Now, in some states owners are entitled to request detailed financial information and if that is the case then the curious can see who is on a payment plan, but only in the privacy of the management office.

Payment Plan Questions from Homeowners

Who decides if you can or cannot set up a payment plan for delinquent assessments?

If there are no state laws that require an association to offer a payment plan and if the governing documents of the association do not prohibit it the decision is up to the board of directors. All Board of Directors of a well-run association should have a Uniform Collection Policy that speaks to payment plans. Ask your manager or BOD for a copy of the rules and regulations where the collection policy should be.

Can I negotiate the amount to be paid back in a payment plan?

When it comes to the amount of the payment plan, some things are negotiable but NOT the principal assessments and special assessments that are owed. You can negotiate the length of the payment plan. You may also find that some collection agencies will waive off some of the collection charges (late fees and interest) if the payment plan is short enough to resolve a delinquency quickly.

How do I work out a payment plan when I am behind on my HOA dues?

The most important thing is to open a dialog with the individual who is tasked with working out payment plans. Some advanced collection agencies even have debtor facing portals where they give you the options to choose the length of your payment plan so that you do not have to talk to a customer representative. The main thing is to get up and sort this matter out as soon as possible before the association gets desperate and begins a foreclosure on your property. Don’t be shy — protect your home by getting this done right away.

Resolving a Delinquency is Always Better than the Alternative

Members of community associations should know how they may catch up with delinquent assessment payment plans for their Condo or HOA. Resolving a delinquency via a payment plan is the best result for this issue a community can hope for – not doing so only leads to heartache for homeowners whose homes are foreclosed upon, and unnecessary legal fees for the association. Owners should know that they can sort these matters out and boards of directors should make adequate provisions to do so.

In good times and bad times, Condos and HOAs need to be able to set up payment plans. If a unit is sent into collections, then this solution should also be contemplated and deployed. Contact a specialized collection agency like Axela Technologies to work with your association on resolving delinquency issues. If we do not collect, we do not get paid. Click here to contact us to schedule a time for a demonstration.

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