Suspending Vehicle Access and Pre-Judgment Garnishment of Rent to Collect Assessments

By Lanier Coulter, Esq.

Published November 26, 2012  

 

In a previous blog I highlighted several options to collect assessments.   This blog addresses two techniques utilized by several communities to collect assessments, specifically, suspending vehicle access and garnishing rent.  These two options are dependent on the authority in the governing documents for the community and, with regard to suspending vehicle access, whether the association owns or has rights to either the roads or parking areas.

 

First, your community's governing documents may expressly grant the association authority to suspend vehicle access through a common gate and parking on the common elements or association property.  However, please note that pedestrian access for purposes of ingress and egress to the owner's property cannot be restricted.  Prior to imposing this sanction, the association should talk to its legal counsel to ensure all proper steps are taken.  For example, the association may be required to give ten (10) days' notice, sticker the vehicle, or provide the violator with a hearing prior to suspending access.  The board should carefully consider whether it has notified the owners and residents of this remedy prior to booting or towing improperly parked vehicles.  After all, the goal is not to boot or tow improperly parked vehicles, but instead to encourage the owner to pay assessments to the association. 

 

Second, your community may have the right to garnish rent if the owner is delinquent and renting the unit.  If provided for in your community's governing documents, this remedy is often outlined in the leasing provision of the declaration.  However, even if the association does have the right to take this action, there are a few things to consider.  The board should ensure it does not violate the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act when enforcing this provision, so please discuss this remedy with legal counsel.  Also, depending on the reaction of the renter, the association may be forced to obtain a judgment against the owner prior to enforcing the rent garnishment against the renter.  Of course, the association cannot retain more funds than it is owed, so the association must carefully monitor how much is gathered through the pre-judgment rent garnishment process and keep the tenant informed of when to stop remitting payment to the association. 

 

Ultimately, while an association may have the right to impose these sanctions, it should carefully consider how to provide notice to the owners and residents as well as consult with counsel prior to utilizing either of these options. 


 
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G. Lanier Coulter, Jr. - owner/founder of the firm. He is a 1998 graduate of Oglethorpe University and a 2001 graduate of Emory University School of Law, where he was the recipient

of the Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund Award.  

 

Lanier is a member of the state Bar of Georgia and the DeKalb County Bar Association.  He is the author of "Don't Wait Until it's Too Late, Statutes of Limitation and How They Can Affect Your Association's Rights" which appeared in Georgia Commons, a Publication of Community Associations Institute of Georgia, Inc.  

 

Lanier practices primarily in the area of community association law.  Lanier assists associations in interpretation and enforcement of their governing documents (covenant enforcement and collection of assessments) and in the negotiation, financing and execution of major renovation and rehabilitation projects.  He is an instructor of continuing education courses for community association managers and attorneys, including, "Dealing With Difficult People," "Problem Solving for Planned Communities," and "Condominium Law." 

 

Currently Lanier serves as a member of the Amicus Committee the Community Association Institute and a member of the Legislative Action Committee for the Georgia for Chapter of the Community Association Institute.  He was the recipient of the 2011 Rising Star Award in the CAI-Georgia Chapter.

Contact Lanier at: glc@coulterlawfirm.net