Did you know you can own your home and still get evicted? That’s right. If you own property regulated by an association – usually condos and townhomes – not paying your monthly association dues could get you kicked out of your own home.
The Illinois Condominium Property Act regulates property associations in the state and provides them with certain rights. One of those rights relates to common expenses. Common expenses are what make living in a condo appealing to so many people. Someone else shovels the sidewalk, cuts the grass, insures the building, saves for repairing the roof, pays the real estate taxes, and lights up the parking lot. Common expenses are also what can get you kicked out – if you don’t pay your share. 765 ILCS § 605/9.2
The legal process of getting someone kicked out of his townhouse or condo is called “Forcible Entry and Detainer.” 735 ILCS § 5/9-111. Unlike a foreclosure, which actually transfers ownership of the property, an action for forcible entry transfers the right of possession. Law school professors talk about property in terms of a bundle of sticks. Each stick is a right; for example, the right to exclude others from your property or the right to mortgage your property. The right to possess your property, or live in and on it, is another stick. You give up your right of possession when you rent your property to someone else. They pay you in exchange for your possession stick.
When a judge enters an “Order for Possession and Entry,” the association has the legal right to evict you from your condo or townhouse. The judge hands them your possession stick, even though you still own the property. The association can then rent out your unit to help cover the unpaid and accruing common expenses.
You can get your property back, but at a cost. You must pay all outstanding common expenses (including the association’s attorney’s fees and costs for kicking you out) and be up to date on all monthly assessments since entry of the judgment. But once opened, the legal door has to be shut. The property owner must go to court to prove that everything is paid before the judge will hand him back his possession stick.
If you are having trouble paying your association dues, talk with the association and try to work something out before it goes to court and you end up on the street.