If a landlord owes their HOA dues, can the landlord’s tenant be asked to pay rent directly to the association?

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If a landlord owes their HOA dues, can the landlord’s tenant be asked to pay rent directly to the association?

Recently, the condo association has contacted me through their lawyer and told me that I should be paying my rent to them to cover for the amount that my landlord owes the association. I don’t have a written contract with my landlord. It’s more like an agreement we’ve done through e-mails and conversations – nothing signed. Do I absolutely have to pay the association the same monthly rent amount I have “agreed” to pay my landlord?  And could I alternate monthly payments to the association and landlord?  Basically, am I obligated to send my check every month to the association?

Asked on March 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have to pay the association directly--and you should not--unless your lease with the landlord provided that you are responsible for HOA fees. Your agreement is with the landlord, not the HOA; if you pay the HOA, you are paying another person's debts.

If you can negotiate--and have put in writing, signed by all parties--an agreement that you will take a certain amount out of your rent to pay fees directly to the HOA, that's one thing; there's nothing wrong with coming to an agreement that reduces your rent by the amount you pay on the landlord's behalf to the HOA. But without an agreement such as that, then the landlord can sue you for the full amount due him or her under the lease, notwithstanding that you paid money to the HOA, because you are obligated to the landlord under the lease.


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