A condominium unit owners association in Virginia Beach was the subject of a news story yesterday (link after the jump) for suspending the right of a Unit Owner to use utility services (water) provided by the association for non-payment of assessments.
Section 55-79.80:2 A of the Virginia Condominium Act and Section 55-513 B of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act provide authority for community associations to:
suspend a unit owner’s right to use facilities or services, including utility services, provided directly through the unit owners’ association for nonpayment of assessments which are more than 60 days past due…
In addition to any reminder or delinquency notices, before suspending any service, including utility service, an association must provide:
- Notice of the violation and a reasonable opportunity to cure;
- Notice of a hearing:
- A hearing in which the owner (and their counsel) is entitled to be present; and,
- Notice of a hearing result.
Whenever a notice from the association is received, it is critical that a unit owner contact the association as soon as possible to discuss possible resolution.
When addressed early, community associations can provide options for addressing delinquencies – payment plan, fee waivers and payment arrangements.
To avoid consequences of non-payment, it is important the unit owner engage in a dialogue with the association. That dialogue may, at some times, be unpleasant, but is critical to avoiding the suspension of services, additional late charges and legal action.
And, if extenuating circumstances exist related to a disability, the unit owner should provide that information to the board as soon as possible – accommodations from certain policies of the association may be available.
In the article below, statements by the managing agent confirm a willingness to work with unit owners, “the board is willing to work with people to create payment plans, but said if the homeowner doesn’t communicate then there is little they can do.” But, there is no indication the owner here has contacted the association or attended the hearing called by the board.
As boards consider possible suspension of services, they must remain mindful to avoid suspending any services, including utility services, that will endanger the health, safety, or property of any unit owner, tenant, or occupant. Each possible suspension should be considered on a case-by-case basis and decisions made based on the available facts and circumstances.
Virginia Beach, Va. – 61 year-old Dianne Billings is disabled and said she has been living without water for 10 months. Billings took NewsChannel 3 through her house and explained how she uses the toilet, showers by dumping water over her head and does laundry once a month at the laundry mat.
UPDATE: TheMossReport has heard a rumor that a good samaritan, after hearing of Ms. Billings’ situation, paid the past due assessments in full.
Because every set of recorded governing documents are different, the application of the law to each community association differs. The information provided above is for educational purposes only. As always, contact an experienced attorney for advice and counsel.