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Condominium living offers a unique blend of private ownership and shared community resources, requiring a delicate balance of interests to ensure smooth operation and financial stability. Central to this balance is the role of the condominium board, a body tasked with managing the community’s affairs. One of the most critical responsibilities of this board is its fiduciary duty, which includes the crucial task of placing liens for unpaid condo fees. This article explores why enforcing this fiduciary duty is essential for protecting the condominium corporation's assets and maintaining its financial health.

Understanding Fiduciary Duty

A fiduciary duty is a legal obligation that requires individuals in positions of trust, such as condominium board members, to act in the best interests of those they serve—in this case, the unit owners and the condominium corporation as a whole. This duty encompasses a range of responsibilities, including prudent financial management, transparency, and fairness. The overarching goal is to ensure the well-being and stability of the community, safeguarding both the individual and collective interests of the residents.

The Importance of Condominium Fees

Condominium fees, often referred to as maintenance fees or assessments, are critical for the operation and maintenance of the condominium community. These fees cover essential services such as:

  • Maintenance of common areas (e.g., lobbies, gardens, pools)
  • Utilities for shared spaces
  • Repairs and upgrades to community facilities
  • Insurance premiums
  • Reserve funds for future large-scale projects or emergencies

When unit owners fail to pay their fees, the financial burden on the condominium corporation increases, potentially jeopardizing the quality and continuity of these services.

The Role of Liens in Financial Protection

A lien is a legal claim against a property that secures the payment of a debt, in this case, unpaid condominium fees. Placing a lien on a unit with outstanding fees serves several crucial purposes:

  1. Ensuring Payment: The lien acts as a powerful incentive for unit owners to settle their debts. Knowing that a lien could complicate or prevent the sale or refinancing of their unit often motivates owners to pay overdue fees.
  2. Protecting Cash Flow: Regular and predictable cash flow is essential for the condominium corporation to meet its financial obligations. By enforcing liens, the board helps ensure that funds continue to come in, maintaining financial stability.
  3. Equitable Treatment: Enforcing liens ensures that all unit owners are treated fairly. If some owners do not pay their fees and face no consequences, it places an unfair financial burden on those who do pay, potentially leading to resentment and further non-payment.
  4. Preserving Property Values: Consistent upkeep and timely maintenance financed by condo fees help preserve property values. Unpaid fees can lead to deferred maintenance and deteriorating conditions, negatively affecting the entire community's property values.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The fiduciary duty of the condominium board to place liens for unpaid fees is not just a matter of good practice; it is often mandated by law. Condominium laws and bylaws typically outline the procedures for collecting unpaid fees and the steps the board must take, including filing liens. Failure to act in accordance with these laws can result in legal liabilities for the board members themselves.

Moreover, from an ethical standpoint, board members are entrusted with the responsibility of acting in the best interests of all unit owners. Allowing unpaid fees to go unaddressed would be a dereliction of this duty, potentially harming the community they are supposed to protect.


The fiduciary duty of condominium boards is a cornerstone of effective community management, ensuring that the interests of all unit owners are safeguarded. By placing liens for unpaid condo fees, boards fulfill a critical aspect of this duty, protecting the financial health of the condominium corporation. This action not only secures necessary funds for maintenance and services but also upholds fairness, property values, and the overall well-being of the community. Board members must recognize the importance of this responsibility and act diligently to ensure the continued prosperity and harmony of their condominium community.