Television news, newspapers and law firm websites are ablaze with the news that on September 8th, a Federal Judge for the Northern District of Georgia held the process for obtaining a garnishment carried out by Gwinnett County under the Georgia garnishment statute was unconstitutional because it violates the due process rights of debtors. The news stories create the impression that a creditor will no longer be able to collect a debt after obtaining a judgment.
We have contacted lawyers, judges and state legislators. All of them are uncertain as to exactly what the order means. It is simply too soon to tell. That will emerge as the dust settles. Until that happens, it is unclear if any creditor has the right to file a garnishment. The prevailing opinion is a creditor/creditor’s attorney is at significant risk of violating the law. Accordingly, WNCW will place on hold the filing of garnishments.
Since the order only affects the collection of money after an association sues and obtains a judgment, we want to explain what the order DOES NOT AFFECT:
- LIENS – WNCW will continue to file liens
- LAWSUITS – WNCW will continue to sue delinquent owners in Superior Court.
- PAYMENTS – WNCW will continue to accept voluntary payments and will continue to reach out to delinquent owners at all stages of the collection process to encourage entering into a payment agreement.
- FORCLOSURES – WNCW will, where applicable, continue to foreclose after obtaining a judgment.
- EXISTING GARNISHMENTS – WNCW will continue to obtain payments made to the Courts.
WNCW encourages all of our clients and community management companies to continue business as usual in proceeding against delinquent owners. We believe the order will be clarified by the time that an action instituted now would be ready for a garnishment.
We will provide updates as they become available. If you have any questions about this issue or would like to discuss collection strategies, we encourage you to contact any of the community association lawyers at WNCW.