The right of associations to recover attorneys’ fees against delinquent homeowners is alive and well. In a recent decision in Arches Condominium Association v. Robinson, the Commonwealth Court upheld the award of $26,206.08 to a condominium association based on its efforts to collect an initial amount due of $939.83. The award of attorneys’ fees was actually less than the amount requested by the association. While the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees is subject to court review, the Commonwealth Court noted that the Condominium Act and the condominium declaration clearly authorized the award of attorneys’ fees.
In awarding fees, the Commonwealth Court also noted that the defendant’s refusal to resolve his account forced the association to file suit initially. The defendant also appealed a much smaller judgment entered in municipal court, appealed an arbitration judgment and appealed a trial court judgment.
The case does provide a word of caution to associations, however, in imposing late fees. The Commonwealth Court found that a monthly imposition of a 10% late fee yielded an effective interest charge far in excess of the 15% annual interest charge permitted under the Condominium Act. As with attorneys’ fees, late fees imposed by an association should be reasonable.