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Can my condo association charge 2 late fees?

Warren, MA |

My condo association is charging 2 late fees. The first one, which is interest of 3% and the other one is a flat $25. The 3% is the one that is in the condo By-laws, the $25 is one they just made up and it isn't in any of the condo documents. The $25 one is about 18% of my condo fee. I do know that with a mortgage, if you are late, they can charge you a fee up to and equal to 3% of your mortgage payment. (GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleI/Chapter183/Section59) With condo law being under the same section, is it safe to say that they can only charge me 3% which would explain why 3% late fees are included in the condo by-laws? Adding a 25 dollar fee would require re-writing the by-laws and it would need to be approved by all owners.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

You must read the CC&Rs of your HOA. Following them is mandatory and not optional. It will tell you what the HOA can and can not charge. Many CC&Rs allow this type of thing as long as it was voted in properly (so see how and when votes have to be taken by the board, is a majority required? etc) to enact something like this. Then, get the minutes of the meeting where the board took this action to make sure they complied. If they did not, then it was not a legal action. If they did, then they can do it unless there is a law in your state that says they can not (you can consult a local attorney for that). In my experience, since CC&Rs are a matter of private contract, the law and courts give great deference to them as long as they are not patently unreasonable and they do not violate the Constitution i.e., saying minorities can not live here etc.

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Asker

Posted

By laws specifically state that any changes have to be approved by everyone.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

But what is "everyone"--the entire board, or the entire homeownership. Also, Bylaws and CC&Rs are not always the same documents. Does the fee addition/increase need a change of the bylaws? If it does, it is unusual, although not impossible. Most CC&Rs and bylaws I have seen have a specific section dealing with fees and merely require majority board vote--you have to see if there is a specific section dealing with fees, because you do not necessarily have to change the bylaws/CC&Rs for fees.

Asker

Posted

the By-laws mention the 3% fee, but does not mention the 25 dollar one, i am getting slapped with two late fees even if I am only 1 dollar late., I used to run the board alone, no one else wanted the job until I hired an attorney and she started foreclosing on properties then I was overthrown and not even voted out, she saw the lawlessness and then stepped away and abandoned me. I feel this is retalitory

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

Then I would consult a local HOA attorney. In California, there is a civil code section that allows a homeowner to enforce the CC&Rs if the board does not. I don't know about Massachusetts.

Asker

Posted

it should be the same here, but courts dont stand behind the laws, so there is a lot of abuse, but if I am able to find which law they are based on, then I can go after them using those laws.

Posted

Just because two laws are in the same chapter does not mean anything. In fact condominiums are under 183A which is actually a separate chapter. 183 - 59 is inapplicable to your situation.

The answer is in the condo documents. Associations also have the ability to adopt rules and regulations for the reasonable management of the organization. 3% sounds like a $4 late charge and frankly this does not come close to covering the time and trouble of tracking and following up on late payments.

You are entitled to ask where the authority for the charge comes from. You may not find it in the recorded condo documents, because the association may have adopted by-laws.

My answers are general in nature based upon very short, and often incomplete questions. Please do not rely upon my answers. If you need a legal opinion, you need to hire a lawyer who will take the time to fully understand your problem and then take the time to research the issues.

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Posted

Th eby-laws state a 3% late fee that is applied monthly, nothing about a 25 dollar fee, The also charged me for 150 dollar demand fee when I was only one month behind, the state law says 60 days. But the state law in condo law doesn't specify ho wmuch of a late fee that canbe brought on, so the 3% has to be based on something, since a mortgage company can only charge the 3% for a late fee

C. Theodore Mariolis

C. Theodore Mariolis

Posted

See Attorney Sargeant's post. She is correct in explaining how a fee may be proper even though it is not in the Master Deed or Trust. Asking for the minutes of the meeting that authorized the fees is a good starting place.

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