Condo Association Sponsor Performing Poorly

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W.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo association representative is called a sponsor. He and his wife are the only board members due to waiting for percentage of units being sold. The percentage is 13 out of the 14 are sold with him using the 14th unit. Meanwhile, we all have been paying our condo fees, but the sponsor does very little. He has let his unit fall apart with wood rot and other issues. As a newly forming association, what is the protocol to take care of this? He also has not complied with our requests to open the financial books. He will only comply with the roof leakage of 3 of the units. Our opinion is due also to wood rot the roof. We cannot stand anymore of his repairs.

Mister Condo replies:

W.R., I am sorry for your problems. Clearly, this is a bad situation, which only seems to be getting worse. I would love to tell you there is an easy fix but I am afraid that is not going to be the case, although I do think you can take some steps now to alleviate some of the problems. I am not an attorney so please consider my advice as friendly and not legal. You will most likely need legal assistance in this matter and I strongly encourage you to contact a qualified attorney in your area who is knowledgeable in this area of community association law.

Developer transition periods can be quite trying for newly formed associations like yours for lots of reasons. For starters, while there are owners and there is an association forming, the true control of the association is in the hands of the developer and his designees. In this case, the person you are referring to as the sponsor is the person responsible for handling the day-to-day business operation of the association. As soon as the developer transition is complete, the newly formed Board will have the ability to make business decisions such as repairing the wood rot, damaged roofs, and so on that will make the association whole. Depending on your state, there are very likely laws that may help you in the transition period but with 13 of the 14 units sold, I can’t imagine you’ll be waiting much longer for full association control of things like “the financial books”, bank accounts, invoices for work performed, and so on. At that time, it should be fairly easy to take back control. Also, if you find the developer or sponsor has done anything improper with the common funds collected, you may wish to seek civil or even criminal charges against the offending individuals. A qualified attorney can better guide you in this area.

The bottom line is that in a small association like yours, you will have to weigh the expense of taking action versus the cost to individual unit owners. It might just be simpler and more efficient to run the association properly once the developer control period ends. Common fees can be put to proper use and the property and units can be properly maintained. It is a bit of a “buyer beware” example of the potential problems a new condo association faces. I wish you and your fellow unit owners success in bringing about the change your community will need to succeed.

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