How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Roger Your Own Question

Roger
Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 26894
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
6704987
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
Roger is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am the Vice President of a small condo association in Philadelphia

Resolved Question:

I am the Vice President of a small condo association in Philadelphia (30 units). One of the units has been abandoned by its owner, after having failed to pay monthly condo fees for several years. Several banks have placed liens on the property but are not keeping the condo association informed of their actions or timetable. We don't even know who we need to deal with to recover any of the fees owed to the association. In addition, the unit is empty and a fire hazard. We don't know what the bank and/or the City of Philadelphia plan to do with the unit and when. What actions can we take to 1) get information about the legal status of the unit; 2) expedite resolution of this matter so someone can buy and occupy the unit; 3) recover some of the moneys owed the association? Thank you. Ellen Frankel
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Kirk Adams : Hi - thanks for looking me up! Bear
Kirk Adams : Please bear with me a moment while I review this.
Kirk Adams : Ok Ellen - - thanks for your patience.
Kirk Adams : 1) The best way to determine the legal status of the unit would be to have an attorney perform a title search to see who the lienholders are, the priority of those lienholders, amounts owed, etc. This would include mortgage lenders, judgment creditors, etc. This is generally inexpensive - - $300-$400, usually. Also, you or an attorney should look at the bylaws or CC&R's to see if the HOA has priority over all other liens - - including the mortgage liens. If so, that would give the HOA priority over all other creditors, which would be great and make foreclosure a viable option for the HOA.
Kirk Adams : 2) IF the HOA is the first lienholder based on the lien for dues, then the fastest way to resolve this issue would be to foreclose and sell the property.
Customer:

What is CC&R?

Kirk Adams : "Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions" - - the rules of the HOA.
Kirk Adams : 3) Again, if the HOA is the first lienholder, it would be entitled to be paid its fees/unpaid dues before any other creditor. However, if the HOA isn't first, the ability to recover would depend on its lien priority and whether there's any money left from the sale/foreclosure of the property after the lienholders in front of the HOA are paid in full.
Kirk Adams : Hopefully, the HOA did provide in its' bylaws/rules that it has first lien against all of the properties for the fees/dues/maintanance. If so, this lien takes priority even over the mortgage loan.
Customer:

I'm looking at the HOA's bylaws and can't find the phrase "first lien holder." Is there a particle article that deals with foreclosure or default on fees?

Kirk Adams : It could be anywhere, literally. But, it should be in the section that discusses dues, etc.
Kirk Adams : It should say something like the dues constitute a priority lien, etc.
Kirk Adams : IF you look through the document and don't see anything, if you have a board attorney, ask him/her. If not, if you have an attorney perform a title exam, you could ask him/her to review that as well to see where you stand. ALSO, there may be a document filed in the land records (like the restrictive covenants) that provides the HOA's lien priority.
Customer:

I don't see anything about priority lien in the bylaws so I will need to bring the document to an attorney. Where would I find land records? Is that the same as recorded deeds?

Kirk Adams : Yes, it's the same.
Kirk Adams : Your local county clerk's office will maintain the property records for the county.
Kirk Adams : You or an attorney can search there for any liens on this particular property, including whether there's a priority lien filing for the HOA.
Customer:

A quick glance through the bylaws seems to suggest that the HOA subordinated collection of monthly fees to something called "permitted mortgages," which might suggest that the bank has first crack at collecting money from the abandoned property. Does that make sense?

Kirk Adams : Yes. it makes sense - - and it sounds like that the mortgage lien is probably ahead of the mortgage.
Customer:

So do we have any recourse with the bank? The bank is suing the estate of the former owner (who died) in Common Pleas Court, which might take months to be adjudicated. Can we join the suit or at least be informed of its progress? If we contact the bank, are they obligated to work with us/communicate with us?

Kirk Adams : That means that the HOA's ability to recover monetarily is behind the bank and would only happen if the bank is paid in full.
Kirk Adams : IF the lender has already sued, then you could join the case as an interested party and have your rights adjudicated along with the lender.
Customer:

How do we join a case?

Kirk Adams : However, if the property is underwater (debt more than the property's value), then recovery of any money due would be tough to obtain.
Kirk Adams : You would actually have to file a legal document known as a "joinder" and ask the court to allow you in.
Customer:

Who owns the abandoned property--the bank that holds the lien, the estate of the deceased, or the HOA?

Kirk Adams : The estate of the deceased should own the property UNTIL the bank is granted authority to foreclose/sale the properety. Then, there will be a new owner at the sale - - which will be whoever purchases the property.
Customer:

As the condo association which includes this unit, do we have any legal right to require the bank to keep us apprised of its actions? After all, there is common property (basement, attic, roof, front lawn and walk) owned by the entire HOA. In other words, how can we become an active party in whatever's happening with this unit? As of now, we receive no written or oral communication from anyone and feel quite helpless and marginalized.

Customer:

We don't even have a person's name or phone number to connect to.

Kirk Adams : Joining in the lawsuit will accomplish that.
Customer:

Can a non-lawyer file a joinder? If so, with whom do we file?

Kirk Adams : If the lender has filed suit, it's really best to try and join as an interested creditor.
Kirk Adams : No.
Kirk Adams : The condo association would have to have an attorney.
Customer:

OK, I'll report all this to our board and recommend that we ask our attorney to file a joinder to join the lender's suit. I will also ask him to review our bylaws to ensure that we don't have a priority lien. Then we'll have to use our powers of moral suasion and letter-writing to push the bank to move expeditiously to resolve this issue so we can start collecting fees again.

Customer:

Thanks for your help! How can I print out and/or save our conversation?

Kirk Adams : Yes, that's likely the best course.
Kirk Adams : You should be able to print the page from your web browser or you can copy and paste the conversation in your word processor (MS Word)
Customer:

OK, I'm going to sign off now. You've been very helpful. I'll give you a high rating!

Customer:

I need you to close the session so I can rate our session.

Kirk Adams : Thank you for allowing me to help!!
Kirk Adams : Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Kirk Adams : Hi -
Kirk Adams : You can now rate my response. I had the rating feature disabled. Sorry for the confusion!
Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 26894
Experience: BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
Roger and 6 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

What happens now?

If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4813
    16 years of legal experience including real estate law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4813
    16 years of legal experience including real estate law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/lawpro/2012-6-25_171315_PT206740s.64x64.jpg Law Pro's Avatar

    Law Pro

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    6227
    20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BA/barristerinky/2012-6-10_22423_office.64x64.jpg Barrister's Avatar

    Barrister

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4966
    13 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    4446
    I've more than 27 years legal experience. Additionally, in CA I held a Real Estate Broker's license.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/rayanswers/2012-6-7_23346_Untitled1.64x64.jpg Ray's Avatar

    Ray

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4030
    Texas Attorney for 29 years dealing in real estate
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/philip.simmons/2012-6-7_161915_BIGPhilipSimmons.64x64.jpg P. Simmons's Avatar

    P. Simmons

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2377
    12+ yrs. of experience including real estate law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/mnphillips2/2009-03-13_203105_10984459-249293407.jpeg Phillips Esq.'s Avatar

    Phillips Esq.

    Attorney-at-Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    2355
    B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.