Category Archives: CIOA

Unit Owner Pissed Off at Condo Board Over Dog Urine Remediation

K.R. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I just purchased a unit that was a short sale. It had visible dog urine damage. The board was aware of this unit’s condition. After removing the carpeting and padding there is wet sub floor and wet framing from the dog urine. I am replacing the sub floor and some insulation as the dog urine seeped through the abutting sub floor and caused damage to some of the insulation as well. I received a note from one of the board members saying I need their permission to do any work in my unit. I read my bylaws and I own the subfloor. Why would I need permission to replace the sub floor or even update my kitchen cabinets? Does the board really have this much control over my home? What about my quiet enjoyment? What does CIOA have to say about this situation? Thank you for your anticipated response.

Mister Condo replies:

K.R., I am sorry for all of your problems. I hope you have been able to fully remediate the issue and get your unit in a livable condition. As to your interaction with the Board regarding repair and restitution work, I have a few thoughts to share. The ownership of the subfloor is not in question; it’s yours. Most associations require unit owners to inform them of any modifications to their units (including restoration) and for good reason. For starters, you may have contractors coming on to the property. These folks need to be licensed and insured and you may need to provide proof of same to the association. Second, depending on the nature of the repairs and/or upgrades, the Board has to make sure you aren’t working on any supporting walls or structures. Finally, if the association’s insurance policy is “all in” coverage, any upgrades you made need to be reported to the insurance company so they are covered. CIOA doesn’t come in to play with any of these issues as far as I know. Living in a community association means playing by the rules. My guess is once you have finished this project, you won’t have anything further to report or ask permission of the Board. All the best!

Former Board Member Making Life Difficult for New Board and Condo Contractors

M.M. from Windham County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

A resident is prone to harassing our contractors for landscaping and snow removal. He is very resentful that he is no longer on the board and sends us lengthy emails about their shortcomings. Years ago, he used to enjoy kickbacks from contractors who no longer work here. He also removes branches, shovels snow and blames us for his hernia. Our manager reminded him that he is not to do work on the common areas, and he is livid. So far, our new board is calm, but he is accusing us of horrible crimes, threatens to expose someone’s DUI arrest and demands to see contracts under CT’s FOI rule. We know FOI does not govern this, but what is the specific law that does govern a privately-held condo association? How do we protect ourselves?

Mister Condo replies:

M.M., it certainly sounds like you have your hands full with this unit owner. The Common Interest Ownership Act is very likely the law that gives him the right to inspect any and all association records, which includes contracts that the association has entered into. I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. While the association does need to provide information as requested, it does not need to do so for free. Reasonable fees for preparing and copying the documents can be charged. Again, there are limits so check with your association’s attorney before deciding how much to charge for the record copies. As for protecting yourselves, you simply need to practice good governance and realize that you are officers in a not-for-profit corporation. You are bound by your own governance documents and state law. I always recommend that Board members receive adequate training and in our state, the local Chapter of CAI offers an excellent program called “Condo, Inc.” where Board members can learn the basics of good community governance. In fact, there are three programs offered this next year. You can lean more by clicking the following link: Good luck!

Condo Meeting Notice Delivery Requirements

V.A. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the law on providing meeting notices to unit owners-re Websites-e-mail, Blogs or Notice boards at the Condominium?

Mister Condo replies:

V.A., there isn’t one specific law about how an association provides or serves notice of meetings for unit owners. Your condominium governance documents usually state that unit owners will be notified by mail. Of course, most of those documents were written long before the proliferation of email and websites occurred. The Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) in Connecticut does give the association the ability to use electronic communications to disseminate information to unit owners. However, the unit owner needs to agree to receive electronic notices and the association needs to keep a record of the unit owner’s acceptance of such notification. An association cannot simply stop sending mail because it has a website or decides to use email. There are many times when unit owners don’t have access to these modern tools and many elect to continue to receive mail as their official notice from the association. Check your governance documents to see what is required for notice at your association. If you haven’t given approval for electronic communications, they still need to send you mail. All the best!

HOA Board Governing but Not by The Rules!


D.C. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

There are 29 homes in my HOA. The board refuses to get training and dictates policy based on their judgement. They have dictated that we have to clear the snow from sidewalks in front of our lot. My lot front has a 10 foot set back. Shouldn’t all sidewalks be labeled common areas and therefore cleared along with the sidewalks in front of open spaces which are undeveloped? The board has failed to operate using the CT state statutes updated in July 2010. Members to the board were elected by show of hands. That allowed TWO votes per household instead of ONE / household. Robert Rules of order were not use!!! What can I do to get the board to comply with the CT Statutes? I placed my common fee in escrow and am being sued. Many Thanks

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., I am sorry for your problems. As you have seen, placing your common fees in escrow is not a good idea and you should not continue that practice as you can not only be sued but even foreclosed upon for continued nonpayment of common fees. Let’s talk about a better approach.

Your HOA has governing documents as part of the establishment of the HOA. I assume you have a copy of these documents and have ready them thoroughly so you have a starting point to explain your points to the Board. While there are no requirements that your Board receive training, there are requirement, under the law, that they observe the HOA’s governance documents and that they abide by any state and federal laws that may supersede those documents, such as the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), to which you have referred.

I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. Your Board needs a bit of a wake-up call if they are not following proper governance. They must abide by the HOA’s governance documents. If that calls for one vote per home in the HOA then that is how the votes should be held. If snow removal is defined in the governance documents, then they should follow the proper procedures for snow removal. They can dispense with Roberts Rules of Order at any meeting but they must first hold a vote to do so. In very much the same way the Board has sued you for nonpayment of common fees, you may need to sue them for not keeping the covenants as outlined in the governance documents. For that, you will most likely need an attorney, which will cost you money, but will get the Board behaving in better form in short order. You may also wish to speak with other homeowners in the HOA about running for office. The folks that serve on your Board are elected volunteers. If they aren’t getting the job done, it may be time for some better volunteers. Good luck!

Do Condo Documents Have to Be Updated When Laws Change?


J.W. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What are the implications for a condo association or Board of Directors if the association’s documents have not been updated to comply with the 2010 changes to CT condo law?

Mister Condo replies:

J.W., that is a great question with a few different answers. The short answer is that federal law trumps state law and state law trumps your condominium’s governing documents, regardless of what provisions they actually contain. If your condo documents have not been updated or amended to reflect the changes in the 2010 revisions to the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act, the association is still bound to observe and respect the provisions of the law or it could find itself in some hot water with unit owners who seek to exercise their rights under the law. That being said, there can be a significant cost and effort to revising condominium documents and many communities simply keep their existing documents in place and either observe the laws as a matter of practice or have a less expensive treatment called a document overlay as an amendment to their current documents. This method saves the association money and also allows for compliance with the CIOA revisions as   part of their governing documents. Whether the documents are updated or not, the state law supersedes and must be observed. All the best!

Is It Against the Law for Association Vendors To Donate Money To Condominium?


L.D. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our executive board agreed unanimously to accept monies solicited by a Unit Owner from our vendors who wishes (along with a few other unit owners) to install a flagpole with lights in the community. By accepting this contribution, isn’t this a violation of the CHAPTER 828* COMMON INTEREST OWNERSHIP ACT Sec. 47-245

(j) No person shall provide or offer to any executive board member or a person seeking election as an executive board member, and no executive board member or person seeking election as an executive board member shall accept, any item of value based on any understanding that the vote, official action or judgment of such member or person seeking election would be or has been influenced thereby.

The Board unanimously voted to do this because the money influenced them and this is verified in the minutes that they accepted this money under these circumstances, thanking the solicitor for their initiative. So they made this decision without involving the community at large stating they have the power as the Executive Board to make changes to the Common Elements. This has upset the community as they feel they have been railroaded into something that is going to have maintenance and other expenses going forward and needs more due diligence before pursuing. People that question it are being called unpatriotic which is unfair. This community already allows people to display the American Flag and many do. What is your take on this? Are they breaking the law? What remedies do we have? If they are not, how can we put a hold on this and make it a community based vote not just the BOD. Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

L.D., my first instinct was to tell you that there is a big difference between the association accepting money from vendors (which is allowed) and individual Board members accepting money (definitely not allowed, sound the alarms!). I asked a friend of mine who practices community association law in our state for a further opinion. Here is what the attorney had to offer:

“The statute you’ve referenced was enacted to prevent bribing board members to influence their official actions.  As you describe what happened, apparently money was given to the association itself rather than for board members to keep personally.  Doing this is not illegal or even uncommon.  For example, some laundry machine services will give condominiums a percentage of the revenue from coin-operated machines used on-site, and some cable or satellite television companies will pay an association a cash stipend to help market their products to incoming purchasers.

Generally, the board does have the power to decide whether to change the common elements or to install something on them, like a flagpole.  The bylaws of some communities may restrict this power, often by capping the dollar amount which can be spent on the change without a unit owner vote.  You should carefully review your association’s bylaws for such a provision and consider talking to an attorney about what rights you may have if it has been violated.”

Sounds like great advice to me. All the best!

Special Assessment to Lower Condo Taxes in Delaware


L.P. from Delaware writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condominium association has called for a special meeting to assess owners for a petition to be filed in state of Delaware to lower individual unit owners’ property taxes. They claim that majority wins and even if I am against this initiative I have to pay this assessment. Can this be legal? This initiative is outside the scope of the HOA and does not involve any repairs/common areas or the like of the community. Thank you for your insight.

Mister Condo replies:

L.P., I am neither an attorney nor an expert in Delaware condominium law, so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. For a legal opinion, I must insist you speak with a qualified local attorney, of which you have many in Delaware to choose from. There are two places to look for your answer. The first is in your condo documents, which spells out what the Board is supposed to do for most common situations. You mentioned repairs of the common area and such as typical duties of the HOA. The second place to look would be the Delaware Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act which does detail even more rights of common interest communities such as your condominium association.

As a general rule, the Board of Directors is free to conduct whatever business it sees fit on behalf of the unit owners. I am not quite certain what type of assessment is required to file a petition but if there is a cost and an assessment is required then a vote of the unit owners does need to be held as outlined in your bylaws. Some votes require a simple majority, others require a super majority (as outlined in your documents), still others require unanimous consent or no negative votes against the issue. As you can see, voting on special assessments can be tricky as they carry their own set of rules that do protect your rights. However, if your Board has done everything correctly and the rules say a simple majority carries the vote, you may well have to pay your share of the special assessment.

I have to assume that your Board and your fellow residents see an upside to this course of action. If you and your fellow unit owners are going to benefit from lower taxes after this petition is submitted, the point may be moot. Again, I encourage you to speak with a local attorney who is knowledgeable in this subject matter. I also encourage any of my Delaware readers with insight into this subject matter to express their opinions as well. Good luck!

Closed Condo Committee Meetings and CIOA


M.L. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Under the CIOA ACT, are committee meetings where the committee does not have the power to act on behalf of the association, subject to being open to all unit owners as is required for Board Meetings?

Mister Condo replies:

M.L., that is an interesting question. The Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) certainly encourages an atmosphere of openness with regards to governance of the association. However, a committee that does not have the power to act on behalf of the Board would seem to fall outside the general guise of CIOA. Just to be certain, I asked an attorney who specializes in community association law for an opinion. Here is what the attorney had to offer:

“CIOA says that: “The following requirements apply to meetings of the executive board and committees of the association authorized to act for the association… Meetings shall be open to the unit owners and to a representative designated by any unit owner except during executive sessions.”  So technically speaking, the statute does not specifically mandate that meetings of committees which are not authorized to act for the association be open to all owners.  The governing documents or policies of your association may differ.”

That sounds like solid advice to me, D.L.. Thanks for the question.

Small Condo with Big Governance Issues


G.M. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own one unit out of a 4-unit condo. The owner of the other three units has total control of all funds and will not release to me how much money is in the Reserve. He will not tell me how much the monthly expenses are for the building and that all bills are paid up to date or that all commons fees for all units are being paid and are up to date. He is also doing lots of construction on the common space as well as on his personal units. He will not tell me how much of the funds have been used to do the work on the common space. Is this legal?

Mister Condo replies:

G.M., smaller condos like yours can be particularly challenging. The short answer is that as a unit owner, you are entitled to whatever records of the association you care to inspect. That being said, the majority unit owner will always control the vote on any issue before the association and, from what you have told me, is treating the association’s funds as his own. My advice to you is two-fold. If you are going to continue to own one of these four units, you can shut up and play nice, sell, or hire an attorney to defend yourself from this non-cooperative owner. Whether he has done anything illegal or not is hard to say. I would say he isn’t complying with the spirit of the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), which requires all associations to function in an open environment of transparency, which, clearly, he is not.

If it were I, I would put my unit up for sale and cut my losses. However, if you wish to stay, you have rights under the law but you must take the steps to secure those rights. That means bringing suit against the other unit owner to give you access to association records, bank statements, contractor agreements, bills, etc… That likely means the expense of hiring an attorney to take such action. In such a small living environment as a 4-unit condo, I can’t imagine that will make for the neighborliest of living arrangements. However, if you wish to stay in this condo and you wish to know what’s going on, as you should, you really won’t have any other choice. I wish you all the best!

Right To Inspect Condo Association Contracts


G.S. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does Connecticut law mandate that unit owners have a right to get copies of contracts signed by the Association’s Board?

Mister Condo replies:

G.S., as a general rule, all unit owners within an association have a right to inspect any record of the association, which includes contracts entered into by the Board on behalf of the association. The Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as CIOA) is the law that gives this right. However, records are not necessarily free or always available so there may be a fee to inspect the documents and reasonable notice must also be given for the request to inspect the documents. This is out of practicality as most records are stored away in file cabinets and need to be retrieved and prepared prior to inspection. I want to point out that I am not an attorney so if you require a legal opinion beyond my answer here, I strongly recommend you seek out competent legal help to assist you. All the best!