T.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I own a condo in a four-unit complex. I am bidding out insurance. A woman at one insurance company, told me she insures my neighbors two condos in our complex. He only owns one condo, although his second floor does have its own entrance. They were all originally one story units, but he added a second floor. Zillow lists his place as two condos. How does this work with our encompassing insurance? And is it illegal if he is claiming to have two condos?
Mister Condo replies:
T.C., the answers to your questions likely lie in some agreement between the unit owner and the association back when the unit owner in question added the second floor to his unit. I am not an attorney nor can I comment about the legality of his claim of two units. Speak with an attorney if you require a legal opinion. My friendly observation is that he petitioned the Board to add the second floor and the Board said yes. Zillow is not a legal authority on how the condo is listed with your local town’s real estate records. You can visit your city hall or wherever else land records for your town are available to see how the property is legally described. It is highly unlikely that the second floor constitutes a separate unit but you can investigate if you need to know. The insurance agent may also be confused as to exactly what is being insured and, again, is not a legal authority on how the unit is listed in local land records. The association’s encompassing insurance is based on the replacement value of the association’s buildings and aggregate assets (common elements). When this unit owner added a second floor, he did increase the association’s responsibility to insure additional building material. You would have to look back at the association’s records detailing the transaction to see what was agreed to by both parties. In theory, the unit owner adding square footage to his unit should have had his percentage of unit ownership adjusted upwards and other unit owners adjusted downward to reflect the change in square footage and the resulting increase in expense to the association for insuring the unit as part of the association’s overall replacement value for its buildings. However, it is also possible that these records are no longer easy to find or that no such adjustment was ever made. The association’s original governance documents, however, should be easy for you to locate and review. See what they say about unit owners modifying their units. Typically, it is not allowed. However, in a small association like yours, it is not uncommon for rules to be modified and accommodations to be made to suit the small number of unit owners involved. Good luck!