Lack of Agreement at Two-Unit Condo

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K.L. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have bought one unit of a two-unit condo, which operates on an informal basis with respect to managing the property. Prior to purchase, the owner of the second unit agreed that needed exterior maintenance (peeling paint, rotten trim boards, rotten siding boards, etc.) would be undertaken within the year. The condo does not have a Reserve Fund and the other owner is financially constrained. I have offered to lend money to the condo in order to see this work done before the damage spreads and becomes more costly. The other owner has refused the offer and is looking to push back the work 8-12 months. How do you suggest proceeding? Is there an obligation on the condo board to undertake required repairs and maintenance?

Mister Condo replies:

K.L., I am sorry to say that you have a bit of a sticky wicket here, indeed. You will need to review the governance documents for the condominium to determine what the next steps are. In theory, the Board of Directors of the association is responsible for the care and upkeep of the buildings and common grounds that make up the association. However, in such a small condo as yours, the voting power of each unit owner may be 50%. That means if you can’t agree, either owner may be able to block the other owner from taking action. Also, unless the by-laws authorize the association to enter into a loan agreement, you may not be able to properly lend money to the association with any guarantee of payback. You can hire an attorney and maybe even force a special assessment upon the other owner who is “financially constrained” as you so thoughtfully put it. The reality is that unless the two of you can come to terms and reach agreement on how to proceed, you may be looking at an ugly situation, both literally and figuratively. Try working out a plan with your fellow unit owner that you can both agree to. That plan may include one or the other of you selling your unit in a worst-case scenario. Good luck!

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