COVID-19 pandemic relief is available for rent, mortgages but not condo HOA fees

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
COVID-19 pandemic relief is available for rent, mortgages but not condo HOA fees
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There are programs in place to help renters and homeowners with their rents and mortgages. But Illinois is not helping condo owners with their association fees during the COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Condo assessments and homeowner's association dues can cost anywhere from several hundreds of dollars to more than $1,000 a month.

The ABC 7 I-Team found that homeowners and landlords have few options if they can't afford to pay those dues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are no government programs in place when it comes to paying your association dues or condo fees. One man turned to the I-Team over his battle for a break.

"We were immediately informed that at my work that we would get reduced hours or reduced salary, and then a few days later it was zero. Everyone was laid off," Ethan Carter said.

Carter has lived in his Lakeview condo for three years. He was recently laid off from his job in the event management industry.

Carter qualified for programs to get financial assistance with his mortgage and other bills, but said he couldn't get help with his condo association fees. Carter pays $266 a month for a special assessment fee.

"There is just like no flexibility, no personal understanding to kind of really negotiate with me, a way that I can still make up my payments for them at a later stage when I'm earning again," he said.

Carter emailed his property management company, First Service Residential, which collects the payment. The company said it was the condo board's decision. So, he emailed the board president.

The property management company responded for the board stating: "The Board appreciates that the current Cornovirus pandemic poses a hardship for many and is sympathetic to the needs of all unit owners; however; the association's legal counsel has confirmed that Illinois law expressly prohibits the association from forbearing or waiving the payment of assessments."

The board said it could consider waiving late fees.

"They can't simply not allow owners to pay, but they may want to consider maybe being a little more flexible about timelines," said Lauren Peddinghaus, owner of' Haus Financial Services, which helps condominium associations with the process of collecting dues.

She said homeowners association dues are needed to keep buildings running.

"Those assessments are collected to pay for the entire operation of the building, including utilities of common areas, cleaning in common areas, maintaining all amenities,," she explained.

Peddinghaus added that dues are something you sign up for with condo living. She said getting a break on your late fees right now is the best anyone struggling can hope for.

"You can be evicted from your condo if you don't pay assessments. The board can take action and go to court on a forcible complaint," she said.

After the I-Team emailed the property management company about Carter's case, it responded, "We confirmed that the HOA board agreed to waive Carter's late fees."

Carter said they've been waived through September. The board said it's willing to continue to work with him.

"It comes down to people doesn't it," said Carter. "It's important because these are our fellow humans, these are people who we should be able to turn to in times of need because they are our neighbors."

If you are having this issue, make sure you email your property management and your condo board officials immediately. If you don't communicate and don't pay, your condo board can take civil action.

You can also check in with your condo board and ask them to consider putting any special projects on hold, which could raise your assessments.