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My elderly parents own a property in a lake community. It is an open lot with a shed. They have been trying to sell the property for years and even tried giving it to the community and surrounding homeowners. The value is less than $7000. Each year, they pay approximately $2,000 in property taxes, association fees and maintenance. They have been trying to sell it for years. If they abandon the property, what legal and financial recourse will the association have in collecting the fees?
Asked on August 28, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Illinois
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
They can sue for the fees either instead of foreclosing on the property for nonpayment of fees, or if they foreclose and the property is worth less than the outstanding balance. Your parents are personally liable for the debt, and thus can be sued like for any other debt (e.g. credit card, court judgment from a car accident case, medical bills, etc.) they may owe.
Of course, if your parents don't own other real estate, have little in savings other than in 401s or IRAs (which are exempt from creditors), and only have pension or social security income, they may be effectively "collection proof" (often called "judgment proof"): that is, they can be sued, and someone could get a judgment against them, but if their assets and income are all retirement-type assets and income, which are protected from creditors, there may be nothing the person(s) suing them can get from them.
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