Are You Paying Your Neighbor’s Bills?

The nation’s housing crisis has produced a plethora of problems for nearly every homeowner, particularly those in hard-hit areas like California, Nevada and Florida. One of the worst? People in danger of losing their homes because their neighbors don’t pay their bills.

“It’s a very scary thought. A very scary thought. I’m thinking well, I would love to have my children come visit me this summer. And spend some time. How can I do that if we don’t have any water, or elevators or electricity?”
-Francine Adams, Condo Owner

Francine Adams isn’t in danger of losing her water or electricity because she’s not paying her bills. It’s because her neighbors aren’t paying theirs.

When you live in communal housing, like a condo, townhouse or coop, everyone is responsible for chipping in on common services, like water, trash collection and maintenance.

But in developments like this where up to 3/4 of the condos are in foreclosure, those bills aren’t getting paid. Leaving those who can pay with a bigger share of the total.

“There are consequences which a lot of buyers don’t really understand at the time they purchase. Namely, that they’re going to be liable for paying not only their own share of the obligations, but any shortfalls created by any defaulting lenders and owners.”
-Gary A. Poliakoff, Attorney Becker & Poliakoff

Translation? People like Francine can actually lose their homes to foreclosure if they can’t up with the money to pay their neighbor’s bills.

So here we have yet another unintended consequence of our nation’s current housing crisis. If you’re a member of a condo whose association is having trouble making ends meet, best advice? Get a lawyer quick.

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