Written by attorney Stephen Patrick Pfeiffer

The Virginia Condominium Act and Lien's For Assessments

Virginia Code § 55-79.84 provides a preference to an association lien on a condominium unit provided the statute is strictly followed. Specifically, Virginia Code § 55-79.84(A) states:

"The unit owners' association shall have a lien on every condominium unit for unpaid assessments levied against that condominium unit in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and all lawful provisions of the condominium instruments. The said lien, once perfected, shall be prior to all other liens and encumbrances except (i) real estate tax liens on that condominium unit, (ii) liens and encumbrances recorded prior to the recordation of the declaration, and (iii) sums unpaid on any first mortgages or first deeds of trust recorded prior to the perfection of said lien for assessments and securing institutional lenders. The provisions of this subsection shall not affect the priority of mechanics' and materialmen's liens."

As an attorney who represents several Condominium Associations in their collections of delinquent assessments and general litigation I often find myself having to remind the Board that they need to act quickly in referring the debt to my office for collections. As self serving as this sounds, the real reason for the haste is due to Virginia Code § 55-79.84(C) which states:

"The unit owners' association, in order to perfect the lien given by this section, shall file before the expiration of 90 days from the time the first such assessment became due and payable in the clerk's office of the circuit court in the county or city in which such condominium is situated..."

If you want to ensure your association has a lien in place you need to be sure that the memorandum of lien is filed by counsel before 90 days from the time it first became due and payable. Delay means your association may be unsecured on that debt. To be safe, I suggest that you refer a delinquent assessment to an attorney the moment it hits 30 days past due. This will allow the attorney to prepare the memorandum of lien, get it endorsed by an authorized board member and filed with the Clerk.

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