Condo Owner Pays for Roof but Doesn’t Get It!

D.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I paid for a roof that never was installed. Is there anything I can do?

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., yes, there are lots of things you can do. Let’s start with who you paid and what type of agreement you entered into. Since you live in a condo, I am going to have to assume that the roof is a common element owned by the association. Common elements are owned jointly by all association members and are governed by the actions of the Board. Common elements are paid for out of the operating fund and Reserve Funds for the association and are usually collected over time as part of your monthly common fees. Since you have stated that you “paid for a roof”, I am going to assume that you and every other unit owner were issued a special assessment to cover the cost of a new roof as there wasn’t enough money in the Reserve Fund to pay for one when it was needed. Is that correct, D.C.? What you actually paid for is the funding of the new roof in the form as a special assessment as opposed to actually paying for the new roof. If this were your home, you would simply hire a roofer and pay for the work as agreed. That’s not how it works in a condominium. The Board hires the roofer and pays for the roof out of commonly held money. If the special assessment hasn’t been fully collected (perhaps some of your fellow unit owners haven’t paid yet?) the Board may still be considering how to pay for the roof. In fact, if the first assessment turns out to not be enough, you could be subject to another assessment before the work can begin. Needless to say, special assessments are an ugly way for associations to pay for repairs. It is a better plan to raise common fees years in advance of when the money will be needed. Otherwise, folks like you are left footing the bill for all of the years of wear and tear that occurred before this roof needed repairing. To boot, you have already paid your assessment and the work is still not getting done. Ask your Board what the delay is. And do speak up at a future meeting. Ask what the plan is for future expenses like this. It may be time for your association to conduct a Reserve Study and start funding the Reserve Fund at an adequate level to avoid future disappointments like this one. Good luck!

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