Maine Alliance for Road Associations
LD 1356 and Process for collecting unpaid assessments
Q: On Section 10. Penalties and process. Is there no need for a small claims court or other court action before we “cause to be recorded in the county’s registry of deeds a notice of claim” or does the recording come after the court procedure? In which case, haven’t we always been able to enforce a lien?
A: On the question of procedure: The Maine road law community had previously been split down the middle on whether, upon sufficient notice to a delinquent member, a road association was within its rights to (1) simply file a notice of claim in the county’s registry of deeds or (2) had to proceed to a civil action, such as in small claims court, before filing such a claim. the piece of paper that gets recorded after you prevail in a small claims action against a delinquent owner is the Writ of Execution - there is not a separate document or lien that is generated and then recorded.
With the new law, it’s clear: following a 30 day notice to the delinquent homeowner member, a notice of claim can be recorded in the registry of deeds. This claim is effectively a lien, and most title examiners will require that it be discharged before the property can be re-financed or sold.
One member comments: “To take our road association as an example, we took a member to small claims court this year for non-payment and won the case. If they don’t pay, we will then get a Writ of Execution by the court and record a lien on the property at the Registry of Deeds. Next year we would not have to go to small claims court, we could give proper notice and then file a notice of claim. The burden is then on the association member to prove why the claim is invalid (as opposed to us having to sue recalcitrant members in small claims court – a HUGE difference, IMHO.”
Another member comments: “If a road association wins in small claims court and is then able to collect, the money goes to the association sooner than if it gets paid when the property next changes hands. However, both are better outcomes than collecting nothing is.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations