Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 15 M1127817
Honorable Diana Rosario Judge Presiding
JUSTICE GRIFFIN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Pierce and Justice Mikva concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff, Sylva, LLC (Sylva), bought a condominium unit at
a judicial foreclosure sale. Defendant, Baldwin Court
Condominium Association, Inc. (Baldwin Court), demanded that
Sylva pay assessments that accrued during the prior
owner's ownership of the condominium. The Condominium
Property Act (765 ILCS 605/1 et seq. (West 2012))
imposes a duty on a foreclosure buyer to pay up to six months
of assessments unpaid by the prior owner. Id. §
9(g)(4). In the trial court, Sylva argued that it was not
required to pay the assessments that accrued during its
predecessor's ownership because the Condominium Property
Act requires the association to sue the predecessor owner for
the assessments. The trial court agreed and held that Sylva
was not liable for the back assessments. We hold that the
Condominium Property Act does not require a condominium
association to file suit against the prior owner in order to
collect unpaid assessments from the foreclosure buyer.
Therefore, we reverse, and we remand for further proceedings.
3 Plaintiff, Sylva, purchased a condominium unit at a
foreclosure sale in August 2014. Defendant, Baldwin Court,
demanded that Sylva pay six months of the assessments
incurred but not paid by the previous owner. Sylva paid the
requested assessments under protest so that it could get a
letter indicating that there were no liens on the property.
Sylva filed this case to recover the amount that it claims it
was wrongfully required to pay.
4 The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Sylva,
finding that the statute at issue required Baldwin Court to
have filed suit against the previous owner in order to
collect the back assessments from Sylva. The Illinois
Condominium Property Act has a provision that allows
condominium associations to collect up to six months of a
prior owner's unpaid assessments from a foreclosure
"The purchaser of a condominium unit at a judicial
foreclosure sale, other than a mortgagee, who takes
possession of a condominium unit pursuant to a court order or
a purchaser who acquires title from a mortgagee shall have
the duty to pay the proportionate share, if any, of the
common expenses for the unit which would have become due in
the absence of any assessment acceleration during the 6
months immediately preceding institution of an action to
enforce the collection of assessments, and which remain
unpaid by the owner during whose possession the assessments
trial court held that the "Association was not allowed
to collect under 765 ILCS 605/9(g)(4) because no action to
collect was filed against the former owner."
5 On appeal, the only issue is whether Baldwin Court did what
was necessary to entitle it to up to six months of unpaid
assessments from Sylva. In their briefs, the parties'
singular focus is on the inclusion of the phrase,
"institution of an action to enforce the collection of
assessments." The parties dispute whether the statute
requires that a lawsuit to collect the assessments be filed
against the prior owner as a prerequisite for recovering them
from a foreclosure buyer.
6 Baldwin Court points out that it took the necessary action
to recover under the statute. It filed a lien against the
property, and the lien was recorded. Sylva had notice of lien
and of the unpaid assessments and went forward with the
purchase. As the main support for its argument, Baldwin Court
cites the dictionary definitions of "institution"
and "action" to conclude that instituting an action
does not have to mean filing a lawsuit.
7 On the other side, Sylva relies on a number of instances in
case law where "instituting an action" has been
understood to mean filing a lawsuit. Sylva also relies
heavily on the synopses of section 9(g)(4) to support its
position that filing a lawsuit against the predecessor owner
is a prerequisite to recovering back assessments under the
9 The question on appeal is whether section 9(g)(4) of the
Condominium Property Act requires that a foreclosure
purchaser pay up to six months of unpaid assessments incurred
by the previous owner if the condominium association does not
file a lawsuit to collect the unpaid assessments against the
prior owner. The primary goal in construing a statute is to
ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature.
Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School
Ass'n, 2017 IL 121124, ¶ 22. We ...