The recent ruling in The Columbia Condominium v. Ullah upholds an association’s ability to withhold amenities from a unit owner when assessments have not been paid. This New York specific case law should not be held on it’s own and associations should consult legal counsel before taking actions against a delinquent owner.
The case surrounded a divorce situation where the assessments had not been paid for years by the spouse living in the unit. The association filed a lein and shut off access to amenities, which the unit owner used as justification for continuing to not pay assessments. The court upheld the right to withhold services – so long as the rules passed applied to the entire building and were not punitive to a single unit owner.
The legal costs in this case are unknown but likely catastrophic, as litigation is not only time consuming but very expensive. Retaining counsel early to take the steps necessary to avoid a drawn out fight is recommended. Simple mistakes are often spun as allegations of discrimination or unfair treatment, which causes costs to spiral out of control.
Contact an expert condo insurance broker to discuss better protecting your board against allegations of mismanagement, discrimination and other breaches of fiduciary duty. No matter how cautious a board is in writing and enforcing it’s bylaws, lawsuits happen and litigation is expensive.