Q&A: Collecting a Fine From a Tenant

Q We have a new unit owner in our building who is a young, very smart man. He had a party of about 15 people, which flowed out from his unit into the lobby and in front of the building where his guests were drinking champagne right out of the bottle. This happened on a Saturday night about 11:30 p.m.

We told the owner that this behavior was unacceptable and he agreed. Because of the problems with neighbors, we fined him $50 for the incident. This young man has decided he's not going to pay the fine, however.

What can we do to collect this fine short of sending it to an attorney? We don't have a specific rule or regulation that prohibits drinking in the lobby or the parking lot. But we fined him under the "nuisance" clause in our bylaws. People in the building across from us were disturbed as well as our unit owners and have advised that if this happens again they will simply call the police.

---Rule Breaking Owner

A “This incident does fall under "nuisance," says Marshall Dickler, principal at the Arlington Heights-based firm of Dickler, Kahn, Slowikowski & Zavell, Ltd. “But, if you do not have a provision in your documents or a rule establishing a fine, you cannot fine. Pass rules with fines for the rules and for covenants violations and "nuisance violations." If there is a rule and you held a proper hearing and gave him an opportunity to be heard and then the board fined, you can collect the fine like any unpaid assessment, including filing an eviction action.”