Condo Board Allowed Unit Owners to Not Pay Common Fees!

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D.A. from Washington, D.C. writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

This is a D.C. issue. My condo association was run for years by the condo association, which didn’t bother to go after association payments from people who didn’t pay. It also didn’t get around to repairs until forced to do so. I had to file a lawsuit a few years back to get a leaky roof repaired. Now, the condo is run by a management company with a D- BBB rating. It neglected to pay a water bill, and our water was cut off for a couple of days. Now, I have a leak again that is not being taken care of. The condo is in D.C. and the management company is in Maryland. The condo association is not registered in D.C.. The management company refuses to tell me the name of its registered agent, and I’m trying to find out whether it is in fact registered here in D.C.. Please advise.

Mister Condo replies:

D.A., you have a lot of issues at your condo, to be sure! However, it is not a D.C. only issue I am afraid to say. The real problem here is a lack of a Board of Directors to step in and correct all of the issues which very likely stems from a lack of desire to increase and/or common fees which are the lifeblood of the condominium and the reason the Board can only attract a management company with a “D-” rating from the Better Business Bureau. If you owned a top-rated management company, would you want to manage such an association? Not too likely.

I think you have been on the right path in the past when you have brought suit against this association in the past. As is always the case in such scenarios, money is the true culprit. The association is run by the Board of Directors, not the management company. In fact, the management company works for and reports to the Board of Directors. The Board is tasked with making sure that ALL association governance practices are being fulfilled, including collection of common fees by unit owners who are delinquent. That includes placing liens and foreclosing on unit owners who are in arrears. By the way, if any of the Board members are in arrears, your governing documents likely requires them to be removed from the Board.

D.A., you may be a good candidate to turn this association around. You understand the problem and are eager to work towards a solution. Why don’t you run for the Board and find a few like minded unit owners to join you. My guess is that you could get the association back on track financially in short order. After that, it is time to recruit a property management firm that will implement the desires of the Board and keep those common fees flowing. After that, focus on building a healthy Reserve Fund so that there is money available when the roof and other common elements need to be replaced. It will be a challenge but you will be rewarded by living in a community you can be proud of. All the best!

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