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Priority Lien - District of Columbia


Subchapter I. General Provisions

Section 42-1901.01. Applicability of chapter; corresponding terms; supersedure of prior law.

Section 42-1903.13. Lien for assessments against units; priority; recordation not required; enforcement by sale; notice to delinquent owner and public; distribution of proceeds; power of executive board to purchase unit at sale; limitation; costs and attorneys' fees; statement of unpaid assessments; liability upon transfer of unit.

(a) Any assessment levied against a condominium unit in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and any lawful provision of the condominium instruments shall, from the time the assessment becomes due and payable, constitute a lien in favor of the unit owners' association on the condominium unit to which the assessment pertains. If an assessment is payable in installments, the full amount of the assessment shall be a lien from the time the first installment becomes due and payable.

(1) The lien shall be prior to any other lien or encumbrance except:

(A) A lien or encumbrance recorded prior to the recordation of the declaration;

(B) A first mortgage for the benefit of an institutional lender or a first deed of trust for the benefit of an institutional lender on the unit recorded before the date on which the assessment sought to be enforced became delinquent; or

(C) A lien for real estate taxes or municipal assessments or charges against the unit.

(2) The lien shall also be prior to a mortgage or deed of trust described in paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection and recorded after March 7, 1991, to the extent of the common expense assessments based on the periodic budget adopted by the unit owners' association which would have become due in the absence of acceleration during the 6 months immediately preceding institution of an action to enforce the lien. The immediately preceding institution of an action to enforce the lien. [sic] The provisions of this subsection shall not affect the priority of mechanics' or materialmen's lien.

(b) The recording of the condominium instruments pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall constitute record notice of the existence of such lien and no further recordation of any claim of lien for assessment shall be required.

(c)(1) The unit owners' association shall have the power of sale to enforce a lien for an assessment against a condominium unit if an assessment is past due, unless the condominium instruments provide otherwise. Any language contained in the condominium instruments that authorizes specific procedures by which a unit owners' association may recover sums for which subsection (a) of this section creates a lien, shall not be construed to prohibit a unit owners' association from foreclosing on a unit by the power of sale procedures set forth in this section unless the power of sale procedures are specifically and expressly prohibited by the condominium instruments.

(2) A unit owner shall have the right to cure any default in payment of an assessment at any time prior to the foreclosure sale by tendering payment in full of past due assessments, plus any late charge or interest due and reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in connection with the enforcement of the lien for the assessment.

(3) The power of sale may be exercised by the executive board on behalf of the unit owners' association, and the executive board shall have the authority to deed a unit sold at a foreclosure sale by the unit owners' association to the purchaser at the sale. The recitals in the deed shall be prima facie evidence of the truth of the statement made in the deed and conclusive evidence in favor of bona fide purchasers for value.

(4) A foreclosure sale shall not be held until 30 days after notice is sent by certified mail to a unit owner at the mailing address of the unit and at any other address designated by the unit owner to the executive board for purpose of notice. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the Mayor or the Mayor's designated agent at least 30 days in advance of the sale. The notice shall specify the amount of any assessment past due and any accrued interest or late charge, as of the date of the notice. The notice shall notify the unit owner that if the past due assessment and accrued interest or late charge are not paid within 30 days after the date the notice is mailed, the executive board shall sell the unit at a public sale at the time, place, and date stated in the notice.

(5) The date of sale shall not be sooner than 31 days from the date the notice is mailed. The executive board shall give public notice of the foreclosure sale by advertisement in at least 1 newspaper of general circulation in the District of Columbia and by any other means the executive board deems necessary and appropriate to give notice of sale. The newspaper advertisement shall appear on at least 3 separate days during the 15-day period prior to the date of the sale. 

(6) The proceeds of a sale shall be applied:

(A) To any unpaid assessment with interest or late charges;

(B) To the cost of foreclosure, including but not limited to, reasonable attorney's fees; and

(C) The balance to any person legally entitled to the proceeds.

(d) Unless the condominium instruments provide otherwise, the executive board shall have the power to purchase on behalf of the unit owners' association any unit at any foreclosure sale held on such unit. The executive board may take title to such unit in the name of the unit owners' association and may hold, lease, encumber or convey the same on behalf of the unit owners' association.

(e) The lien for assessments provided herein shall lapse and be of no further effect as to unpaid assessments (or installments thereof) together with interest accrued thereon and late charges, if any, if such lien is not discharged or if foreclosure or other proceedings to enforce the lien have not been instituted within 3 years from the date such assessment (or any installment thereof) become due and payable.

(f) The judgment or decree in an action brought pursuant to this section shall include, without limitation, reimbursement for costs and attorneys' fees.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit actions at law to recover sums for which subsection (a) of this section creates a lien, maintainable pursuant to Section 42-1902.09.

(h) Any unit owner or purchaser of a condominium unit shall be entitled upon request to a recordable statement setting forth the amount of unpaid assessments currently levied against that unit. Such request shall be in writing, directed to the principal officer of the unit owners' association or to such other officer as the condominium instruments may specify. Failure to furnish or make available such a statement within 10 days from the receipt of such request shall extinguish the lien created by subsection (a) of this section as to the condominium unit involved. Such statement shall be binding on the unit owners' association, the executive board, and every unit owner. Payment of a reasonable fee may be required as a prerequisite to the issuance of such a statement if the condominium instruments so provide.

(i) Upon any voluntary transfer of a legal or equitable interest in a condominium unit, except as security for a debt, all unpaid common expense assessments or installments thereof then due and payable from the grantor shall be paid or else the grantee shall become jointly and severally liable with the grantor subject to the provisions of subsection (h) of this section. Upon any involuntary transfer of a legal or equitable interest in a condominium unit, however, the transferee shall not be liable for such assessments or installments thereof as became due and payable prior to his acquisition of such interest. To the extent not collected from the predecessor in such title of such transferee, such arrears shall be deemed common expenses, collectible from all unit owners (including such transferee) in proportion to their liabilities for common expenses pursuant to Section 42-1903.12(c).

(j) In addition to any other right or power conferred by this section, the executive board shall have the power to suspend the voting rights in the unit owners' association of any unit owner who is in arrears in his payment of a common expense assessment by more than 30 days, and the suspension may remain in effect until the assessment has been paid in full.