Category: Real Estate Contract Disputes



If you are a member of a condominium association, or thinking about purchasing a condominium, it is important that you understand condominium assessments and liens.  Condominium associations typically have monthly assessments, which is a monthly payment that each member makes to the association.  Monthly assessments are used by the association to maintain common areas, which are areas in the association where all members share an ownership interest.  This could be a lobby, pool, or garden.

A condominium may also assess a special assessment.  This special assessment is usually a way for an association to pay for a large repair or improvement project, the cost of which the monthly assessments would not cover.

Associations provide themselves the power to collect monthly and special assessments when they are formed.  Condominium formation includes the drafting of a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“Declaration”).  If you own a condominium, you should familiarize yourself with your association’s Declaration.  If you are planning to purchase a condominium unit, you will receive a copy of the association’s Declaration prior to the actual closing.

The Declaration will almost always allow the association to set monthly and special assessments that each member of the association must pay.  In addition, the Declaration will nearly certainly state that any individual that owns property included in the association is an association member, and responsible for payment of the monthly and special assessment.  Finally, the Declaration will provide processes that the association can use to collect unpaid monthly and special assessments from its members.

Although the Declaration provides for an association’s collection means, association collection of unpaid assessments is also supported by Illinois law.  The Illinois Condominium Property Act (765 ILCS 605/9(g)) states that any unpaid monthly or special assessments that are unpaid by a unit owner, shall be a lien on that unit owner’s property.  The amount of the lien includes interest, late charges, and attorney fees that the association spends in an effort to collect the unpaid assessments.

The association’s lien on your property is superior (prior in right) to any other liens recorded against your property, except 1) your first mortgage and 2) any unpaid local, state, or federal taxes.  If you have a second mortgage on the property, the association’s lien can obtain priority over that mortgage if it meets certain requirements within the Illinois Condominium Property Act.

If you have a condominium lien on your property, you will want to resolve it by paying the unpaid assessments.  Otherwise, you will not be able to sell your condominium, or the association may foreclose its lien and be entitled to even more interest, late charges, and attorney fees for which you will be responsible.

Planning on buying or selling a condominium?  Or concerned about a condominium lien on your property?  Local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy real estate and estate planning help in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Issues at Closing

When Are You Done With The Transaction.

In a real estate transaction on day the property is transfer is referred to as the closing.  This is a date where everyone signs the documents and the house is officially transferred over. A closing date can be hectic for some, as usually people are moving, packing, cleaning, and setting up for their new home. However, just because you are at the closing table, does not mean the transaction is guaranteed to go through. There are often last-minute walk-through issues or errors which can arise without warning and threaten the deal.  It is in these situations where you need a skilled real estate attorney representing you who can negotiate on your behalf.

What is a Walk-through?

Before a buyer is able to sign the documentation, they are entitled to a last walk-through of the house.  This is done often with the Buyer’s real estate agent. This is the time Buyer looks through the property to confirm it is still in the condition it was in when they first decided to purchase the house. Additionally, this is the time for the Buyer to check and make sure any pending home inspection items are fixed to the Buyer’s satisfaction.

What if there is an issue during my walk through?

In a perfect transaction, there would be no issues during the walk-through, however this is not always the case. There could be imperfections with the house which the Buyer wants remedied before the closing can take place.  For example, the house may not be cleaned, the Seller may have left items in the home which the Buyer did not want, or unexpected power outages or storms could damage the property. If the Buyer wants to move forward with the transaction, there may need to be some last-minute negotiations or dealings before the deal can fully commence. It is in these situations you need an experience attorney to represent you and your interests. Owning a home can be up to a thirty (30) year commitment.  It is important you feel comfortable in your home from the moment you purchase it.

Conversely, as a Seller, you also need an attorney to protect you as well. If a Buyer has an issue during the walk-through, it may not be in your best interest to remedy the situation. When walk-through issues arise, it can become difficult to navigate, having an advocate on your side can relieve your stress and get you the best results.

Understanding HOA Documents

When you are buying property, you may find a home you love which has a homeowner’s association. If you have never had a homeowner’s association, you may be wondering what documents you need and which documents are important before you close on your home. Luckily, with the help of a skilled attorney, they will provide you with the correct homeowner’s association documents well before you sign on the dotted line.

When you buy a home part of the requirements of the contract is that you are the receive copies of the home’s homeowner’s association documentation. This documentation includes, copies of all annual meetings minutes, copies of the financial records from the association, a paid assessment letter showing how much is owed on the property and up to that date, rules and regulation, bylaw, articles of incorporation, declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions. These should all be provided to you before you close on the property so you have time to review them.  Your lender may also have an interest in the homeowner’s association documents. These can be very telling of the property’s financial state and some lenders may require a check list of items to be cleared before giving you a loan.

When you receive your documents, the first main document of the most importance is the rules and regulation. These are the day to day rules of your property. For example, there could be a rule stating your home needs to painted only one color, or any outside decoration are prohibited. Another big rule which many people see is pets. The homeowner’s association may only allow certain pets, the pets may have weight limits or even breed restrictions. This can be a big deterrent when finding a home, if your pet cannot come with you. These are day to day rules you need to live by and should be the first thing you check to be sure if you are in agreement. If not, there is not much room for any negotiation and you may need to find another property if there is a major rule which causes an issue.

The next documents you should look at, are the financials of the homeowner’s association. You should be checking how often the homeowner’s association’s monthly assessment has risen in the past few years. You should check the balance in the reserves the homeowner’s association has left over. You should look at upcoming projects as well. If you receive your documents and it appears there are not many funds, it means the property could be looking at raising the monthly assessment in the future or even a special assessment on the property. You need to read these documents clearly and reach out to a trusted real estate broker and attorney to help you make informed decisions. Often times, an attorney can even help you negotiate if there is an issue. You should read all the documentation clearly to make an informed decision regarding your new potential homeowner’s association.

Are planning on buying or selling property?

Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy real estate help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.