On March 20, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court published its court ruling in Spanish Court Two Condominium Association v. Lisa Carlson, 2014 IL 115342, which reversed a lower court’s opinion that a unit owner may raise as a legal defense to a collection of delinquent condominium assessments lawsuit an association’s alleged failure to repair and maintain the common elements.
The Supreme Court has now correctly ruled that a condominium association’s alleged failure to repair and maintain the common elements is not a “germane,” or viable, defense in a forcible entry and detainer proceeding (a.k.a., eviction lawsuit). Distinguishing the difference between a landlord-tenant relationship that is contractual and an association-unit owner relationship which is largely a creature of statute, the Court held that a “unit owner’s liability for unpaid assessments is not contingent on the association’s performance.”
The Court recognized that allowing unit owners to avoid paying assessments because of extraneous matters such as an alleged failure to repair and maintain common elements defeats the very purpose of including condominium associations in the forcible entry and detainer statute, which is meant to provide a “quick method” for collection of past due assessments.
Acknowledging that the “association’s ability to administer the property is dependent upon the timely payment of assessments, and any delinquency in unit owner’s payment of their proportionate share of common expenses may result in the default of the association on its obligations,” the Court held that a unit owner shall not be permitted to avoid their duty to pay assessments by raising a defense of failure to repair or maintain the common elements.
This is a good legal decision for condominium associations reinforcing their right to collect delinquent assessments.