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Non-payment of communal charges

I live in a complex of apartments and after nine long and frustrating years we all got our Title Deeds last May. We took over responsibility for the administration and management of the apartments from our developer and our lawyer helped us set up a “Management Committee” to look after things. There are forty eight […]

I live in a complex of apartments and after nine long and frustrating years we all got our Title Deeds last May. We took over responsibility for the administration and management of the apartments from our developer and our lawyer helped us set up a “Management Committee” to look after things.

There are forty eight apartments in total and nearly everyone has paid their communal charges towards the insurance and upkeep of the common areas. But there is one person who owns six apartments who refuses to pay anything. He lives in the UK and Ive only ever met him once in all the time we’ve lived here. He bought the apartments to rent to holiday makers, but their always empty. He has also been trying to sell them for the last two years, but at the silly price he is asking, no-one is interested in buying.

We have contacted him and our lawyer has contacted him, but he refuses to pay. I have also spoken with him on the telephone and he says that as he doesn’t use the apartments he doesn’t need to pay the management charges.

Is there anything we can do to make him pay?

Answer

This is a very common problem as it is often difficult getting communal charges out of absentee owners.

But your Management Committee can apply to a Court for a judgement in its favour ordering the person to pay. Armed with this judgement, the Committee may register a charge with the Land Registry against any immovable property registered in the name of the person as security for the recovery of the debt.

This is known as a ‘memo’ or ‘memorandum’ and effectively prevents the person from selling the property until the debt has been cleared and the memo removed.

Although this will not get you the money immediately, when this person does manage to sell the apartments, he’ll have to pay off the debt.

I suggest you talk this over with your lawyer; he’ll be the best person to sort this out for you.

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