Condominium Super-Liens

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Many condominium associations rely on fees and special assessments to keep up the common areas of the condominium. Maintenance and repairs allow the value of the units to remain somewhat stable. Unfortunately, many unit owners are delinquent or negligent about paying these fees and assessments. This results in a condominium association trying to make ends meet on a lower budget than planned. In the event of delinquent fees, condominium associations are protected by a Massachusetts law that allows for condominium super-liens. The Boston condominium lawyers at Pulgini & Norton can help associations and unit owners understand the function of these super-liens. We have the knowledge, skill, and experience that you need when consulting a real estate attorney.

What Are Condominium Super-Liens?

Under M.G.L. c. 183A § 6(c), any outstanding condominium fees are a lien against the delinquent unit. The lien starts from the date the fees are due, and the delinquent unit owner incurs personal liability for everything associated with the late or unpaid condominium fees, including interest, collection costs, and fines.

The condominium must properly perfect its lien, and if it does, this super-lien has priority over all liens (except those that are municipal) for six months’ worth of fees, attorneys’ fees, and collection costs. Even if the unit is subject to foreclosure, the super-lien can roll over for six months. This includes priority over the first mortgage on the unit. A unit owner cannot get out of the condominium association's lien by filing for bankruptcy. However, an association needs to act quickly against the unit owner in order to maintain its rights. When a unit owner owes more than six months’ worth of condominium fees, courts have ruled it is impermissible to file multiple lien lawsuits to have a rolling lien that extends over successive six-month periods.

Perfecting a lien requires the association to send 30- and 60-day notices to a delinquent unit owner, as well as the owner’s lender, before suing to obtain a super-lien. The unit owner may not withhold payment even if he or she disputes the charges, and the owner will need to file a lawsuit challenging the fee if he or she believes that the assessment is wrong. In most cases, the lender would rather pay the fees that are owed so that its own lien is not knocked out of the priority spot. However, if nobody pays the lien, the condominium can sue and eventually foreclose on the unit to make sure the lien is paid.

When a condominium is sold, the law requires that the condominium trustees sign a 6(d) certificate that verifies any outstanding condominium fees assessed. Lenders require a clean 6(d) certificate that shows there are no unpaid fees. A prospective condominium buyer who is not securing a mortgage should be aware that if he or she purchases a unit that has delinquent fees and a perfected super-lien, he or she would become responsible for paying any outstanding fees if the 6(d) certificate is not clean.

Consult an Experienced Condominium Lawyer in Boston

Whether you are a condominium association, a lender, a buyer, or a seller of residential property, our Boston condominium attorneys can help you determine the next steps in connection with a super-lien. Pulgini & Norton also advises and represents buyers, sellers, and lenders in Malden, Medford, Lowell, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation.