Area of Law: Real Estate Law
Answer # 0425
Can the condominium corporation put a lien on my condominium unit?Region: Ontario Answer # 0425
Yes. If a unit owner fails to pay either the common expenses or a special assessment, a lien may be registered against the condominium unit.
Once a unit owner has fallen into arrears, the property manager will likely write to advise that there has been a failure to pay the common expenses or special assessment. If payment is not received, the next step is likely a notice of lien.
The regulations of the Condominium Act state that before a certificate of lien can be registered, a notice of lien must be sent to the unit owner. This notice provides the owner with 10 days in which to pay the total amount secured by the lien, which may include the common expenses owing, interest charges, legal costs and collection expenses, if any.
The right of the condominium corporation to register a lien expires three months from the date of the arrears. It is important to note that a lien is a serious matter. If a lien is registered against a unit, the unit owner loses his or her right to vote at owners’ meetings.
Furthermore, if a lien is not ‘discharged’ (paid in full) the condominium corporation could apply to the court for the sale of the unit, upon notice to the mortgage financers. The lien takes priority, and therefore, a mortgagee will often pay the amount of the lien, and then demand reimbursement of the payment from the unit owner, together with interests and reasonable costs. If a unit owner fails to pay the mortgagee, after demand for payment has been made, the entire amount of the mortgage may be considered due and payable.
A condominium corporation has the right to request the court to enforce the lien, which could jeopardize a unit owner’s mortgage and financing, and ultimately even result in a forced sale of the unit.
If the unit owner has rented out their unit, it is also possible for the condominium corporation to ‘attorn’ (seek payment from) the rent of a tenant, plus interest and the cost of collection.
Even if you have a dispute with the condominium corporation or the board over the amount of the common expenses, or do not agree with a special assessment declared by the board, in order to avoid having a lien placed on your unit, it is advisable to continue to make the payments until the issue is resolved. For more information, view Ontario’s Condominium Act, or refer to the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services website on Consumer Protection – Owning a Condo.
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