Court: Responsibility to Pay Assessments Not Excusable

Court: Responsibility to Pay Assessments Not Excusable

Illinois homeowners who are unhappy about their community association cannot stop paying their assessments, according to a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling—a decision applauded by the Community Association Institute (CAI) and its members.

In 2010, a Highland Park association sued a homeowner who refused to pay her assessments because she claimed that the association didn’t repair a leaking roof that damaged her condo. The court ruled in favor of the association. But that ruling was overturned by an appeals court, a decision that was troublesome to association experts who said that if a single owner could refuse to pay assessments based on a disagreement with the association, the ability to govern and fund expenses would be threatened.

CAI’s Illinois chapter assisted with the appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. CAI Chief Executive Officer Tom Skiba, CAE, said in a statement that CAI was eager to support this landmark decision. Skiba noted that it clarifies that an owner’s responsibility to pay assessments is independent of a board’s obligation to repair and maintain common elements. He urged people to consider the potential ramifications if owners could skirt their financial obligations in cases like this.

“What if owners withheld assessments every time they believe work wasn’t done—or just not completed to their satisfaction? Associations need to do their very best to fulfill their responsibilities, but this scenario could jeopardize the financial stability of many associations and pose an unfair burden on owners who are paying their fair share,” said Skiba.