A Wisconsin condominium association had a unit owner who was habitually delinquent in the payment of assessments. Neither the association or the property manager had ever spoken to the unit owner. The association hired an attorney who filed one small claims action after another against the unit owner every time she became delinquent. The association was awarded judgment each time, and was paid on the judgment debt each time through numerous garnishments However, the attorney fees were awarded at the time of judgment, so the association was not able to recover the additional attorney fees it incurred for each garnishment. After each garnishment the debt would again accumulate and the collection process would start over. The unit owner was not paying assessments outside of garnishment.

The association became frustrated with this approach and hired the Husch Blackwell Condominium & HOA Law Team, which recommended filing a foreclosure action along with seeking a money judgment. The association took Husch Blackwell’s advice. After judgment was entered and during the one year redemption period, the association was able to garnish the unit owner on the money judgment and recoup the judgment debt. However, the unit owner continued not paying the monthly dues during the redemption period and the debt was again building. After the redemption period, the association was able to take the property to Sheriff’s sale on the foreclosure portion of the debt. Before the confirmation hearing, the unit owner contacted Hush Blackwell explaining that she “hadn’t had time to open the mail.” After that communication, the association was paid everything that it was owed, including attorney fees and costs for the foreclosure and garnishment, and the unit owner signed up for ACH (direct bank payments). The unit owner provided the association with all necessary contact information (for the first time), and remained current with payments thereafter.

Lesson: Take an aggressive approach to collection and stop the cycle of non-paying owners.