Condo Law Watch

Associations Entitled to Judgment Against Owners of Record for Assessment Collections Lawsuits

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In Cambridge Apartments Condominium Association v. Williams, No. 1-13-3226 (Ill. App. Ct. Aug. 15, 2014), an Illinois appeals court affirmed a ruling that an association was entitled to judgment against a former unit owner for unpaid assessments that became due after the unit’s transfer because the association had no notice of the change in ownership.

In October 2012, the Cambridge Apartments Condominium Association (the “Association”) sued Zojacqueline Williams, the owner of Unit 110, for delinquent assessments and other common charges in the amount of $2,494.30.  The association also asserted it was entitled to possess the unit under the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act (the “Act”).

The association’s president, Alma Jordan, testified that the association sent a notice in May 2012 to Williams in Santa Monica, Calif., indicating a debt of $6,671.35 for Unit 110.  The association’s account ledger indicated that, as of August 2013, Williams still owed assessments in the amount of $2,086.24.

Williams asserted she sold the unit to Patricia Bennett in January 2012.  She also claimed that the deed was not recorded at the time of sale because the association had a delinquent water bill, which precluded obtaining a water certificate necessary to record the deed in Cook County.  Williams provided a copy of the purchase agreement, which she and Bennett had signed, and an unrecorded deed for the unit that was witnessed in June 2012.

Bennett testified she owned Units 104 and 110 in the Cambridge building.  She said she gave the association a check for $3,957.05, which was the amount the association claimed was due for Unit 110 through October 2011.  She later learned that there were also unpaid assessments for November and December of 2011, and she paid the association $806.12 for those months. The association asserted that all checks received for Unit 110 were credited to Williams’ account because they believed that Williams was still the owner of Unit 110.

In September 2013, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the association and against Williams in the amount of $2,086.24.  The trial court also awarded the association $5,529 in attorney’s fees and $573 in court costs.  Williams appealed, arguing that the association was not entitled to a judgment against her because she did not own the property.

The Appellate Court found that, under the Act, the association may be entitled to possession of the unit if the association serves a demand for payment of past due assessments and the owner fails to pay.  Furthermore, the condominium declaration requires a seller to give the association at least 30 days’ prior written notice of a unit transfer.

As a result, the Appellate Court held that, since the association had no notice of the transfer of title, the unrecorded deed to Bennett did not preclude the association from obtaining a judgment against Williams. The Appellate Court therefore upheld the decision of the trial court.

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