There are basically two options for an association to recover past-due assessments: 1) File a lawsuit; or 2) File a lien. While a lawsuit may be necessary at some point — it may not be. Why spend a bunch of money paying lawyers, and spend a bunch of time waiting for anything to get accomplished? To be honest, unless you have several years of unpaid assessments (and the assessments are large) it is probably not worth it to file a lawsuit as your first step. The cost of hiring a lawyer to prepare and litigate your suit is probably more than the amount owed — and what happens if you lose?
Filing a mechanics lien through Levelset, however, provides the security of attaching the debt to the property itself. If the lien itself does not provide the necessary impetus to encourage the delinquent property owner to pay, the lien can be foreclosed, and the property sold to satisfy the debt. And, unlike mechanic’s liens, the foreclosure of an assessment lien is not always required to be judicial. That means that the association may be able to file a lien, foreclose on the lien, and sell the property — all without hiring a lawyer. If you do opt to hire a lawyer (or judicial foreclosure is mandated by your state), don’t worry, most states allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees in a successful lien foreclosure action. Plus, even if you want to file a lawsuit — filing a lawsuit to foreclose a lien is a much better option than just filing a lawsuit against the delinquent property owner personally, because the property secures the obligation to pay (if the property owner is not paying assessments, he might not have the money to pay a judgment against him personally, either).
So, by filing an assessment lien, you not only put pressure on the delinquent owner to pay now — you get benefits down the line