Larger Condo Unit; Larger Common Expense

A.S. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am and have been concerned how the monthly condo fees are determined. More importantly, I have been concerned about the manner in which special assessments are determined for the upkeep of common access grounds, buildings, etc.. Our association bases both monthly fees and special assessments on the square footage of the owner’s individual condo. I have told the board that this is patently unfair as the owners of the largest condos (there are 4 of us) pay considerably more each and every time there is a raise in monthly fees, or in the case on special assessments. Their answer is “well, you will get more when you sell your unit”. Are there are any regulations concerning this unfairness in either of the examples I have stated?

Mister Condo replies:

A.S., yes, there is but I don’t think you will like my answer very much. All common fees are based on a formula outlined in the condominium documents. You have described the “percentage of unit ownership” to a “T”. There are many things that can be used to determine the percentage of unit ownership but it sounds to me that your association simply took the total square footage of all units and then divided by the square footage of the individual units. In the case of you and your three fellow unit owners who own more square footage, you will always pay a larger share of any financial burden than unit owners with less square footage. The Board’s response that “you will get more when you sell your unit” is not necessarily true because market conditions dictate what your unit will be worth. A better response is that during the lifetime of use of the unit, you will enjoy more livable square footage than your neighbors, and for that privilege, you will shoulder a larger burden of shared common expenses and special assessments. Since the percentage of unit ownership formula you are describing is very likely part and parcel of the condo documents you and your neighbors agreed to when you purchased your unit, your argument of unfairness holds no truth. It was clearly identified as part of what you purchased. You are paying your share of the common expense as you agreed when you purchased your unit. No more, no less. Hope that explanation helps. Best wishes!

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