As someone else answered, it will not hurt to give a heads up to both attorneys that this is the situation. The Board should have been furnished a copy of the contract by now, so all of this information should be in hand for your use.
I am the president of the my condo Board and have handled this type of situation, unfortunately, many times over. But, you and your association are protected.
FYI, filing a lien and going through the motions of taking possession of his unit in leiu of past-due assessments takes many, many months and your greates relief should lie in the sale of his unit. Honestly, this is the best way it could work out for your entire association, as it is most often the best way to get your accounts settled.
Hope this puts you at ease. In agreement with most, I do recommend that you consult a real estate attorney on behalf of your association.
Contact me if you need more direct answers and explanations!
Our closings are done with attorneys, and no real estate attorney worth his/her salt, is going to allow his/her buyer to purchase a condo without requiring a paid assessment letter. Don is right, that the lien is a much stronger method of enforcement, but it does require a little effort on the part of the board.
I would recommend that the board contact the seller's real estate agent, and make them aware of the arrears, and make sure they understand that the board will not supply a paid assessment letter, unless the arrears are made current at least 30 days prior to any closing. Once the agent is aware of this, I'm sure they'll make certain the seller's attorney is informed, and they'll make sure the association gets paid.
Hope this helps!
a lien simply places the world (Ok, the people who take the time to look at the recorder's records) that the debt is due and that you are "in line" to get paid from proceeds of the condo sale (in line behind anyone who recorded a lien before you and ahead of anyone else that deadbeat owes money to that has not perfected a lien yet).
A lien is public notification that money is owed. It "clouds the title," making it very, very difficult (if not impossible) to sell the property until the lien is removed. And the condo association would only remove the lien once the arrearages are paid.
Will you be "out the money" without a lien? Maybe. Eric says, "the bank will most likely request a paid assessment letter." If it did, and actually paid attention to it, that might hold the sale up. But a lien is a much, much stronger technique.
You ask: "does it make any difference if we are a townhouse and not a condo?" That's a question for a lawyer. However--and I'm not a lawyer--the association is a legal entity. Money is owed to it. It shouldn't make any difference. A workman can file a lien. A person who slips and falls and successfully sues can file a lien.
Any competent lawyer should be able to do it, and it shouldn't cost that much. Eric provided a recommendation; I'd suggest starting there.
Hope that helps.
If you need an attorney to file the lien, contact Nick Jakubco at 773-588-3395. For a reasonable fee he will do it for you.
As with all legal matters, contacting an attorney and not relying solely on the advice of agents is a good idea.