Category Archives: Board

No Board at this Iowa Condo!

M.T. from Iowa writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a condo in a small HOA with about 18 units. We currently have a non-existent property manager/bookkeeper that has been in charge of running things since the board disbanded prior to my ownership. This manager has not done any repairs other than basic yard work and snow removal. My roof started leaking and all my requests for repairs have gone unanswered. My front deck is also dilapidated and in need of replacement and she just hired a handy man to come put more screws into the rotting wood. She is not an owner and, in fact, lives about a half hour away in another state. Majority of the owners agree she has been neglecting her responsibilities as a property manager and needs to go. How do we go about that if a board doesn’t exist? Many owners have asked to see the financial state of the association but she refuses and ignores our requests. Some owners are unable to sell due to the fact that they cannot prove that the association is in the black financially. How do we get rid of her put the association back into the hands of the owners? FYI, these condos were built in the mid-80s and most of our roofs and decks are in need of replacing.

Mister Condo replies:

M.T., I am sorry for your situation. Let me get this straight. You and the owners of the other 17 units have been living in a condo association for several years with no one realizing that there needs to be a Board to govern the association?!? You have a right to be upset with the Property Manager but what is she supposed to do? Technically, she has no supervision or guidance from the association. Unlike you and the other owners, she has no ownership interest in your association. I assume she is paying herself for her work out of the association’s common funds, collected by her, and used to pay for the scant services that are being provided. I would say you are fortunate to have her stick around without any direction or supervision from the non-existent Board. I hope she is honest and hasn’t robbed the place blind. The Board is the check and balance system to keep an eye on the association-owned assets (in this case, the money!). You and the other owners need to read your condo documents and determine who will volunteer to serve on the Board as soon as possible. Then, and only then, will you have an opportunity to address your immediate problems but also the myriad of problems created by not having a Board in place. Good luck!

Condo Association Evicts Dog Owner After 5 Years!

K.V. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve been living in my condo for over 5 years. The association has never ever enforced the no dog over 20-pounds rule the entire time. Now I have an eviction notice on my door. Are they able to do that? Can they now kick me out for my dog? I’ve had her there for 5 years. I would have never moved in if I knew this would happen. 5 years!!!! Not one word about it being against the rules.

Mister Condo replies:

K.V., I am truly sorry for your problems. Just because the association chose not to enforce a rule doesn’t mean they can’t enforce a rule. What they do have to do is enforce the rule evenly (not just against you) and they have to follow the rules for notifying you of the violation, giving you an opportunity to contest the violation, make sure your dog is not an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), etc.. If they have done all of those things and your by-laws allow then to evict you and/or your dog, then they may be well within their rights. If you have not already done so, you should most certainly hire an attorney to protect your rights. Eviction is usually an extreme measure and a very legal procedure. It should not begin with a notice on your door. There are many more steps than that in the process. You can and should fight back. Whether or not you will prevail depends on the association’s governance documents and your local laws. All the best!

Replaced Property Management Company Refuses to Surrender HOA Records to the Board

W.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The replaced property management refuses to surrender HOA records to the HOA board. Is that legal?

Mister Condo replies:

W.D., nobody likes to lose their job, including property management companies. While it is bad form to delay the turnover of association records to either the Board or the new property management company I have to say that I hear it happens all the time. Take a look at the former property management company’s contract. Does it say exactly what happens upon termination? Many contracts say the records have to be returned but they fail to say how soon. I have seen phrases such as “within a reasonable amount of time” and “at their earliest convenience”, which indicates it should happen shortly after termination but has no teeth when it comes to setting exact dates. It is not uncommon for an association to hire an attorney in this situation to pursue the management company. Usually, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to speed up the process. Other than that, you are at the mercy of the former property management company. Hope that help. Good luck!

Condo’s Casual Way of Doing Business May Deny Unit Owner’s Rights  

K.K. from Wisconsin writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are a 4-unit condo in Wisconsin. I am the treasurer. We don’t have a board of directors, we have always been able to figure things out between us. There is a shared driveway and we pay 1 company to plow the snow and do the landscaping. 3 out of 4 owners want to keep the company for now and reevaluate next year. The one owner is saying she is going to hire someone else to do her part of the driveway and expects me to calculate monthly how much her share was and reimburse her from the $80/mo. maintenance fee we pay for landscape/snow removal, general condo insurance and the company that takes care of weed control and fertilizing. I have never in my life heard of someone doing this! I am going to consult a real estate attorney if need be because this person has had many unreasonable demands and is truly ignorant on how condo associations work. Just wondering what your thoughts are?

Mister Condo replies:

K.K., there is nothing wrong with small condo living… until there is! You have provided an example of what can transpire when one of the owners doesn’t have an understanding of exactly what they have purchased and what decisions they do or don’t have a say in. On the flip side, I am fairly certain that your governing documents do call for a Board of Directors (or other name for the governing authority of the association). The fact that you haven’t held formal meetings may or may not hinder your future operation of the association. Even though this recalcitrant unit owner wants to deviate from the norm, she most likely has the right to attend Board meetings and vote on which vendors are used, association rules, and so on. You may need to change how you do business as a Board if you are to maintain the Board’s authority to make such decisions. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if you have denied this unit owner her right to vote and participate in the decision-making process as outlined in your governance documents. Take a look at the docs and see that you are not denying her any rights. Other than that, you should be fine. Good luck!

Neighboring Condo Unit Owned by a Hoarder

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The unit next to me is owned by a hoarder who moved in during 2015. The owner is hoarding on the deck/common elements outside as well as inside the unit. There are no window treatments so you can see piles upon piles of “stuff” inside the unit. I have complained to my association in June of this year because my unit had mice. (I have owned for 10 years and never had a rodent prior to this) They have done very little and communicated very little to me despite my calls/requests for assistance. They had the County Board of Health come and just confirm that it is a hoarding situation, that the mice are most definitely coming from there but the BOH has stated there is little they can do about the conditions on the inside of the unit. I had the Fire Marshall some and speak with the unit owner but they have limited power as well. He did let them know a neighbor is upset and asked them to clean up and they said they would. Of course, they did not. I had an exterminator come out, they did their best but stated if the cleanup doesn’t happen this will be a recurrent issue and it could get much worse. Well two months later and I have mice again. I have contacted the Board several times with zero response, Mister Condo, without the board acting. We have antiquated by-laws that’s don’t address hoarding. What are my options at this point? I was told to sue the board and the neighbor. Do you have any wisdom on this issue? I’m really losing hope and thinking I need to sell my condo.

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., hoarding is a real problem at condos and apartments around the country, not just in your community. I am very sorry for your particular horror story. You are doing all the right things. You also need to contact an attorney. Regardless of what the Board can and cannot do to get this hoarding situation under control, you need to have your property rights protected and that might very well include a lawsuit against the hoarder and the association. The problem is that hoarding isn’t properly addressed in association rules and by-laws. Further, the courts have often sided with the homeowner right to live in their home as they see fit. The legal battle happens when their lifestyle creates “nuisance” for other unit owners (like you). Selling your unit is certainly a viable option but finding a buyer is likely to be quite challenging with a mouse infestation problem. A savvy buyer would surely notice the sights and smells that are usually associated with a neighboring unit housing a hoarder but I wouldn’t rule it out as one possible and realistic solution to your problem. My advice is that you consult with an attorney, gather up as much information as you can, and make an informed decision about whether to stay in place or sell your unit. Good luck!

Condo Handicapped Parking Requirement

B.F. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How many handicap parking spots are required for residential only condos?

Mister Condo replies:

B.F., since parking areas at residential condos are typically private property, owned by the association, there are no mandatory requirements for handicapped parking. The association, governed by its democratically elected Board of Directors, is in control of the common grounds, including the parking area. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs how many handicapped accessible parking spaces are in public parking lots but doesn’t address private parking lots. Any unit owner or resident is free to petition the Board to ask for handicapped parking but they are not under any obligation to provide them. The reality is that parking is at a premium at most condos and just isn’t feasible to allocate spaces within the limited resources of the association. Good luck!

Community Association Management Contract Requirement

T.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does a manager of a very large condo building need a contract, as to her responsibility, salary etc.? Does the manager need a contract of duties and responsibilities?

Mister Condo replies:

T.W., managers are hired by associations to conduct the day-to-day business of the association, which include a myriad of tasks and responsibilities, there is usually a contract between the association and the manager or the management company that details the work and compensation for the work. If an association hires a manager without such an agreement, it really isn’t practicing good business practices, in my opinion. That wouldn’t be the manager’s fault. That would be the fault of the association. I am not aware of any legal requirement for such a contract but I can’t imagine hiring any person or company without such a document. All the best!

Proper Condo Owner Notification for Passing Special Assessment

K.G. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

in Connecticut, if an association Annual Meeting is held and a Special Assessment is being brought before unit owners to be voted on, does the specific amount need to be disclosed in the notice to unit owners? Our agenda said “discussion of” the project … should it have said “vote on special assessment” for the project? Question 2 – What if the board agreed to a dollar amount to bring before the association for vote and at the association meeting it was increased and voted in favor by the unit owners.

Mister Condo replies:

K.G., as long as the Meeting was properly noticed and the Special Assessment discussion was on the agenda, it is unlikely that the Board did anything wrong with regards to notice. Ditto to the actual amount of the Assessment after the Meeting was held. That being said, your association’s governance documents may provide for a special procedure for levying Special Assessments and that protocol would have needed to be followed. There may also be a limit on the percentage or size of the Special Assessments. At the end of the day, if the association is short of money needed for repairs and maintenance, the details of how the Special Assessment is issued is secondary to the problem that enough money was not collected by the association to pay for the repairs that are now needed. Special Assessments are patently unfair but necessary when needed. The sweetness of low common fees is soured when the money is needed for the repairs. I hope your association gets through this turmoil and gets itself back on track financially in the near future. It is quite possible that common fees need to be raised substantially to make that happen. That won’t be very popular amongst owners but it will avoid these Special Assessments in the future. All the best!

Condo Owner Surprised by Special Assessment

T.S. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo association is planning on replacing all the roofs. We got a letter stating we will have to come up with almost 9,000 dollars or have a monthly increase of 200.00 for 60 months. Can they make us do that? Also, they are having a meeting. In this regards, what questions should be asked at that meeting? I appreciate your help and expertise.

Mister Condo replies:

T.S., owning a condominium is kind of like being a partial owner of a business. From time to time, business decisions need to be made about how to protect and maintain the business. In this case, it would appear that an insufficient amount of common fees has been collected for many years, resulting in a deficit when it came time to replace the roofs. The correct procedure would have been to have had higher monthly dues for the many years leading up to this now needed roof replacement. The Board can and must replace the roofs or they may subject unit owners to damage and worse. There is only one place where this money can come from – the unit owners. So, a special assessment has been levied to cover the cost of the roofs. You and your fellow unit owners now must decide if you can afford the one-time payment of $9,000 or if you would rather pay an extra $200 per month for 60 months, totaling $12,000 per unit. I know if it were me, I wouldn’t want to get stuck with an extra $3000 in interest for what amounts to a $9,000 loan but not all unit owners will be able to easily come up with the $9000 and I expect many will take the $200 per month option. As for what you should ask at the meeting, I would want to know what other special assessments lie ahead and how soon. Chances are if they didn’t have enough money in the Reserve Fund to pay for the roof, they might not have enough for other association-owned items. Siding for the buildings? Pool and club house? Tennis Courts? What other expenses are coming up? It is quite possible that the roofs are just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, you would like to see a Reserve Study and funding plan introduced to the community so as to avoid these special assessments in the future. All the best!

Condo Association Provides Inadequate Insurance

J.F. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If a condo association is maintaining flood insurance, but not the proper amounts as required by lenders to provide financing, how can condo owners force the board to purchase the proper amounts of insurance. A vote would be the simple answer, but a number of units are not interested in selling or refinancing. Is there a duty for the board to insure to the amounts that meet today’s lending requirements? Please note I looked at CT laws concerning duty to insure and the flood insurance provisions are somewhat gray to me.

Mister Condo replies:

J.F., Connecticut’s laws on the association’s duty to provide adequate coverage for units can be a bit confusing. At the very least, you have highlighted a specific area of concern that the law may not address clearly. As long as the association is providing adequate coverage to follow the law, there is no additional requirement that they follow what mortgage companies feel is adequate coverage. In other words, if a mortgage company determines the value of your unit to be higher than what the association has deemed appropriate, the mortgage company may claim a delinquency in insurance and either provide the additional insurance (at a premium to you) or mandate that you provide the additional insurance. This is particularly tricky for units that are in flood zones as the flood insurance is a separate policy from the association’s Master Policy. I have found that there is an additional layer to add to this confusion. If the insurance underwriter changes the amount of the Master Policy coverage, it may create a discrepancy with the flood insurance purchased by the association. In other words, the coverages may be for differing amounts which again cause the mortgage companies to claim a discrepancy and require matching amounts of property and flood insurance. The bottom line is that Boards need to keep a close eye on these policies by working with an insurance professional to make sure they are both adequately insuring the association and complying with state law. I do know of homeowners who have sued their association, claiming the association failed to provide adequate insurance. Will you need to do the same? Maybe. I would bring the insurance delinquency to the Board’s attention and see what they do. If you aren’t happy with the results, seek the advice of a local attorney who will let you know if you have a case. All the best!