Recovering unpaid Community charges

All property owners in a community are responsible for contributing towards the communal maintenance, up keeping and repairs of their urbanization.  Unfortunately the number of such debtors and unpaid community fees are constantly increasing, sometimes simply a direct cause of the current economical situation and other less acceptable causes or disagreements in the accounts.

HOw to recover unpaid community fees?

The timely payment of community fees is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance and also living and sharing a communal area.  All delayed and unpaid maintenance
fees directly affects the whole community and all other owners who are contributing, each according to their quota.  In these cases one should always start trying to resolve these issues in an amicable way, after all they are your neighbours and they might simply be in a bad financial situation, something that can happen to all of us.  Generally good will and nature will allow the community and the owner(s) in financial trouble work out possible payment plans that can save the community management a lot of time and money.

If the owner(s) with debts revokes friendly and voluntary payment plans for clearing their debts or fails to provide an explanation that is acceptable to the community and his neighbours then it is suggested that you start with the legal procedures.

Most important to know is that you as President, Committee member or administrator are not allowed to cut their access to general services, such as swimming pool, garage or cut off the water, gas or electricity.   All such sanctions are set out in the Horizontal Law of property and it is not for you to make such decisions, or else you may find yourself breaking the law and equally receiving a fine as the president (the representative of the community) or the administrator as the people who carried out the illegal act of cutting such services and / or giving out the order to carry out the act.

The most advisable procedure is as follow:

1)      At the annual or an extraordinary general meeting, all debts and accounts must be approved and agreed that such debts will need to be followed up legally to make sure they are settled.

2)      The above debt(s) should be
detailed in the minutes and debtor(s) should be notified by registered post, requesting them to settle any and all outstanding debts.  All costs associated to these communications can be claimed in addition to the existing debt(s).

3)      Finally you should present the claim(s) in the court.  Normally this should be presented in the court case where the owner normally resides, but in case of communities it is also possible to present this claim in the court applicable to the area where the community is located.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You should try to present the claim within a maximum of three months from the date of the meeting.

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