J.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I recently entered a contract to sell my condo. After a week of being under contract, the president of the board has mentioned something about blocking my sale due to my partially finished basement. The basement was finished much like others in my building, but I don’t have a second form of egress. I spoke to the town building inspector about this when I did the work and he mentioned that as long as I did not deem this livable space, or make it a bedroom, or damage the structural integrity of the building, it was not an issue. The president mentioned to my real estate agent that I may be forced to tear it out. Can the association legally block a sale due to this or make me demo the work I did?
Mister Condo replies:
J.R., it doesn’t sound to me that the Board has actually blocked the sale as much as cast a doubt as to whether or not the sale should proceed by giving the realtor a heads up about a potential problem. What the realtor does with that information is out of the control of the Board. You mentioned speaking to a town Building Inspector at the time you made the installation. I don’t suppose you got something in writing from him, did you? That would make this “problem” magically go away. Without a certificate of some sort, it would appear there is a grey area surrounding your basement make over. If a different building inspector came out and inspected your property, what would the outcome be? Can you be certain that the lack of egress wouldn’t halt a sale? I agree with you that the Board may be overstepping by alerting the realtor to the potential problem. However, once the sale is complete and you are out of the picture, the new homeowner may have a problem. Problems for owners often become problems for the Board. I don’t agree with the tactic but I understand the sentiment. You may be able to solve this issue by asking the Building Inspector to come to your unit now and issue a letter that states that your basement makeover is, in fact, acceptable as is. That will give you and your realtor the confidence to sell your unit knowing the new owner (and the Board) will not have a problem. Good luck!