“Dues” is such a common term in the industry that it has been accepted as meaning regular monthly assessments, while “assessments” are generally understood to mean “special” assessments. Even so, there are industry professionals who do not like the use of the term.
"Assessment" Argument. Those who dislike the term argue that it is inappropriate to use "dues" when referring to regular monthly (or quarterly) assessments levied at the beginning of an association's fiscal year because dues are voluntary, such as membership dues to a health club, while an association's assessments are mandatory. Therefore, regularly assessed payments pursuant to an annual budget should be called "assessments" not dues.
"Dues" Argument. Those who defend the term "dues" point to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word. The dictionary defines dues as a general term covering any type of monies due, including assessments. Therefore, all assessment are dues by definition. The word “dues” is better understood by homeowners. Members often refer to "monthly dues," since they are fixed and regular. They are “due” every month, like rent or a mortgage payment. Whereas, “assessment” for something extraordinary being levied, such as a special or emergency assessment.
Observation: There is no right or wrong answer. The use of "dues" versus "assessments" is a matter of preference.
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