Condo Board Leaves Leaky Roof in Place for 8 Years!

K.P. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live on the fourth floor of a 4-unit condo. The roof is damaged to the point that when it rains it pours inside my apartment. It has been more than eight years and the condo association will not fix the roof. I stopped paying condo fees and informed the condo association that I was going to save the money to pay for the roof. I have not paid the condo fees for four years. The condo does not call for regular meetings. Two of the other owners had some funds on the condo and they spent it on things that they needed to fix without a voting from the condo association. Now they have a lien on my condo. I have damages in my apartment. Is it legal to not pay for the condo fees and save it for the roof repairs as the condo association has not fixed the roof after eight years of discussion? Can I request that the condo association pay for the damages in my condo?

Mister Condo replies:

K.P., I am sorry for your problems. If you read my column with any regularity, you will see that I never advise any condo owner to withhold common fees for any reason. As you are seeing first-hand, the Board will sue you for those fees and they will win. If you can’t make good on your arrears, you could have your unit foreclosed upon by the association. I hope it doesn’t come to that for you. Assuming you don’t lose your home in this debacle, let’s discuss what you can do to get your unit repaired. First off, hire an attorney. After 8 years, let’s face it, it is long past time to sue the association for dereliction of duty in maintaining the roof. There will undoubtedly be a Special Assessment to make the repair but a lawsuit and judgment against the association will force the issue. Keep in mind that this will cost you as well as the other unit owners a financial hardship but you really have no choice. Hopefully, the threat of the lawsuit will be enough to motivate the association to make the repair to the roof. If not, a lengthy and expensive legal battle will likely ensue. This is a “lose/lose” situation for you and the other unit owners but their ridiculous mismanagement of the roof has lead you all here. Once the repairs are made, I would strongly consider selling and getting out of this potential money pit. If they let the roof go for 8 years, I can only imagine what other nightmares await. There are better places to live. Good luck!

4 thoughts on “Condo Board Leaves Leaky Roof in Place for 8 Years!

  1. Bob is right. Never hold back condo fees. Why not call the building department, code enforcement, and the health department to send over an inspector to issue violations. Lawyers are not always the answer. A dysfunctional roof will generate a fine for the condo which will have to be addressed.

    1. I agree with Bob. But, I would NOT contact the city to report a code violation. This would be a very costly mistake for the whole building. I must ask, if there are only four units, then three of the four owners would be on the board (president, treasurer, secretary). Why are you not active in the board yourself? This is the very reason that I never recommend my clients to buy into a small condo building. Pay your assessments and sue the association, sir.

  2. I suggest you speak with an attorney in your state. People who give opinions on articles like this may not be attorneys or may not know the law in your state. For example, you shouldn’t assume that it is too late to sue the Association. It depends on the facts in your case, and the nature of your claim. As to a defense – In Florida, anyway there is one exception to the general rule that you can’t withhold assessments, and that is where the association’s failure to maintain causes damage to your property. That is a risky gamble, though, because (1) it may not apply in your state, and (2) the damage offset may not be adequate to cover the assessments you withheld.

    If you can afford to pay the amount the association demands, it would be best to minimize your risk. Attorneys’ fees will only go up especially if the Association files a lawsuit against you. Pay the amount required to release your lien. Then you still can address the issue of the association’s failure to maintain. You really need to contact an attorney knowlegeable in association law, in your state.

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