Do Unpaid Condo Assessments Constitute A Lien?

I recently heard from a colleague who had questions about the rights of condo buyers in these uncertain economic times. He asked a series of questions which I feel are pertinent to the current situations many of you might be facing in your associations. His first question was in regard to the unpaid assessments of a sellers unit and if those assessments could become a lien or mortgage right of the association, and if so would it be in a senior or junior position to the mortgage holder of the unit?

Typically, the condominium statute of the particular jurisdiction creates a statutory lien for the benefit of the association, but it is generally subordinate to the first mortgage lien of the record and tax liens. The condominium documents may also create a contractual lien but its priority, again, may be based upon the provisions of the documents themselves and/or the condominium statute in that jurisdiction. Some state statutes allow the association to collect back assessments due and owing on the unit from the date of the sheriff sale through the expiration of the redemption period.

The purchaser at the sheriff sale is generally not liable for any back assessments due and owning prior to the sheriff sale, or, as the case may be, from the date of the expiration of the redemption period.

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