January 29, 2010

Use It or Lose It - The Three-Year Limitation on Collecting Delinquent Condominium Assessments

The Washington Condominium Act states in part as follows: "A lien for unpaid assessments and the personal liability for payment of assessments is extinguished unless proceedings to enforce the lien or collect the debt are instituted within three years after the amount of the assessments sought to be recovered becomes due." This basically means that a Washington condominium association does not have the right to collect assessments that are more than three years old unless a lawsuit seeking payment or foreclosure is already pending. This law applies to condominiums created before July 1, 1990 as well as newer condominiums.

The three-year limitation on collecting delinquent assessments obligates condominium boards to monitor the length of delinquencies and take legal action to collect them before it is too late. Beginning a personal lawsuit against the owner in small claims or superior court within the three year period will preserve the owner’s obligation to pay the full debt. Beginning a foreclosure lawsuit against the unit within the three year period will preserve the association’s full lien rights. Being proactive in this manner will help to maximize the association’s ability to collect the money it is owed.