Condo Trustees Decide to Stop Paying for Association Water and Sewer Services

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E.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a private water and sewer system that provides these services for a flat fee to a condo association. The condo owners pay for water/sewer as a flat fee as a part of their HOA fees. There have been no increases for 10 years. This flat fee was stated in the condo docs. For the last 2 years the trustees have decided to not pay all of the invoices and now are $18,000 behind. Can the trustees on their own decide not to pay for all of the water/sewer services? Do they need special authorization to make these decisions? This authority is not granted in the condo docs.

Mister Condo replies:

E.G., that is an interesting question and it leads me to more questions than answers. The first question is why would you continue to provide water and sewer system services to a client that doesn’t pay its invoices? I would think terminating the water and sewer service for non-payment of invoices would get their attention quickly and get the invoices paid so as to restore the water and sewer service. Am I missing something here? If they stopped paying for electricity, the power would be shut off. If they stopped paying for landscaping services, the grounds would look in poor shape soon after. Is there a reason that water and sewer services should continue without payment? If the condo documents state that water and sewer services are paid for by the association and the association has failed to pay for these services, then the association is deficient in its duties to unit owners and the unit owners could make a claim against the association for failing to provide the service. If the documents were amended along the way, there may be a scenario where unit owners are now individually responsible for such bills. However, document amendments have their own protocol as outlined in your documents and even state law. If these protocols are not followed, any action taken by the Board to divest the association of responsibility for the water and sewer service is likely to be questioned by unit owners like you and may be headed to court or ADR for resolution. Trustees are bound by the governance documents and state law when it comes to making such important decisions. If they aren’t following the rules, you would be wise to call them on it. Good luck!

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