No Condo Fees for 19 Years!

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V.C. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own one unit of a 2-unit condo townhouse. After 19 years without condo fees, my neighbor wants to start a condo trust, using their lawyer to run it. They blame me for the sewer problem we have had since we bought the house. I don’t mind the condo fees but I am thinking they are trying to push me out of my unit by having high condo fees and I think they want their lawyer to handle the HO trust, which will give him a percentage of the funds. I don’t know what else they have up their sleeve or what legally can they do. Is there a cap on how much the condo fees can be?

Mister Condo replies:

V.C., even 2 unit condominiums like yours have condo governance documents that outline everything from condo fees to who is eligible to vote. Most likely, you and your fellow unit owner need to be in agreement on any changes to the rules, annual budget items (including common fees), and even which law firm will handle the condo trust. If you are uncomfortable or uninterested in anything being proposed, my guess is you have the right to prevent it by simply voting “no”. If that is not the case, and your condominium agreement gives full power to set all of these things in motion, you may wish to speak to your own attorney to see what rights you have. I am unaware of any law capping the amount of common fees but I am also unaware of how your condo functioned for 19 years without any common fees. Did the condo hire no contractors for things like snow removal and lawn care? Did you simply split the bills with your fellow unit owner when they came in? If it has worked well for 19 years, you might just want to keep it that way. I doubt that this other unit owner is trying to force you out but you do not have to go lightly if they are. Review your condo documents, hire an attorney if necessary, and protect your investment and your rights. All the best!

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