Tag Archives: Board

Venting About Poor Condo Ventilation

N.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Could you suggest me to solve my condo problem, please? The problem is that my condo ventilation is very poor. In each room, there is one window, one ventilation fan and one door. The window is the only way of fresh air from outside. The door is connected to a shared corridor which air can’t be ventilated because there is no any window in the corridor. Moreover, the ventilation fan is in the bathroom of each room, and each fan of each room is connected to the same vent. The end of the vent should exhale the bad air to the outside of the building. However, this cannot be done. Instead, the end is closed. Could you suggest me any way to deal with this problem? One way that I can think of is to upgrade my own fan to be more powerful than other rooms’ fan so that the air will be pull out from my room since other rooms’ fan is less powerful than my fan. Is this going to help? Or, is there any better ways? Thank you for your time.

Mister Condo replies:

N.L., poor ventilation is certainly a big problem. Are you the only one in your condo who is having this issue? Typically, ventilation problems are solved by professionals who specialize in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (more commonly called HVAC). Your solution may be sound but applying it may not be as simple as installing a larger fan. Also, you might want to check with the Board before you make any changes as the HVAC system of the whole building may be outdated and need replacing. My advice is to write to the Board and tell them about your problem. Speak to your neighbors to see if they have similar ventilation issues. If enough of you are experiencing a problem, it may make more sense for the Board to hire an HVAC contractor to come and examine the property and provide a better ventilation solution. If there is no interest on the part of the Board to take the project on as an association, you might want to speak to an HVAC contractor to see how you can maximize your own ventilation for your own unit. I wish you fresh air and good luck!

Must Board Members Attend Condo Special Meeting Called by Unit Owners?

F.C. from New Haven, County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

When members hold a special meeting, can they make decisions that override Board, cause Board to do things they do not believe are in best interests of association? What happens if a special meeting is called and no Board members attend?

Mister Condo replies:

F.C., without seeing your community association governance documents first-hand, I can only offer you an overview of what could be going on here. The situation you describe is uncommon. Most associations are governed by their elected Board of Directors. If the Board isn’t doing their job to the satisfaction of unit owners, they are typically voted out of office and replaced with more popular candidates. It sounds to me like you have a group of unit owners who are trying to completely circumvent the Board by holding their own meetings. While there are protocols that allow them to do so, they need to follow the rules for calling a special meeting of unit owners. Typically, those meetings are for very specific purposes, including recalling Board members and electing new Board members to serve in their place. There is no requirement for sitting Board members to attend a special meeting called by unit owners but there may be no grounds for a group of unit owners to call a special meeting and take actions that are beyond the scope of the special meeting. My advice is to remove and replace the seated Board members, either by special meeting as outlined in the association’s governance documents or at the next election. You might also want to consult with an attorney who specializes in community association law to make sure the incoming Board does not make any legal blunders that could lead to lawsuits. Unit owners may want new leadership but there are rules they need to follow. The condo’s governance documents and your local state law will instruct the right way to do so. Good luck!

Condo Owner Harassed by Board President and Other Unit Owners

D.T. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How to bring about a board meeting to discuss being harassed by the president of the condo board and other owners?

Mister Condo replies:

D.T., I am sorry that you feel you are being harassed by unit owners or Board members at your association. Typically, you would simply hire your own attorney and bring a lawsuit or criminal charges against the Board members or unit owners that are harassing you. You don’t have the ability to call a Board meeting but you could attend an upcoming Board meeting and ask that the issue be addressed by the Board. The Board does not have the ability to intervene on legal matters. In other words, if your attorney thinks you have a case for harassment, the matter is settled through legal channels, not community association governance. I hope you have a positive outcome. Good luck!

Can Condo Owner Park in Guest Parking Space?

R.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Each building has 36 tenants. Each owner has their own parking space. We also have guest spots. One owner has a spot they don’t like and parked in a guest spot nearer to them. Is there a rule against that? Thanks

Mister Condo replies:

R.C., you tell me! Is there a rule against that? A simple examination of your condo’s governing documents will tell you who can use the guest parking spaces. Typically, the spaces are reserved for guests but many condo documents say nothing about who can or can’t park there. In other words, if there are no rules about how the community association-owned parking lots are used, there may be no issue with your neighbor parking there. On the other hand, if there are rules or the Board decides to create rules about how the spaces are used, it is possible that neither he nor any other resident will be allowed use of these spaces. It seems to me that they were intended to be used as guest parking spaces and that is likely their best use. Good luck!

Condo Construction Defect Loan Cannot be Paid Off Early

W.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Initial construction had problems – BOD suit – went on $2.7M legal fees – won but he filed bankruptcy – urgently needed work done – BOD/Association took loan against common property – $10M – doubled condo fee – was to be provision for buyer pre-pay – never done – demand they do it. Questions: 1) Propriety of binding all condo owners to overall loan – do not allow a owner pre- pay – 2) Isn’t this unusual – As expected, large condo fee has deterred sales.

Mister Condo replies:

W.M., I am sorry for all of your new association’s problems. Construction defects can be quite expensive as can the lawsuits to chase down the developer. In this case, it looks like good money was spent chasing bad to try and recover the funds for the association. As is the case, the unit owners are left footing the bill. You would need to check your association’s governing documents to determine what authority the Board had to negotiate a loan on the part of the association and their ability to limit unit owners’ ability to pay off their portion of the loan at their discretion. You asked if it was unusual and my answer is that it is not. Most newer associations have the ability to enter into a loan agreement on behalf of the association. Depending on how they negotiated the loan, they may not have the ability to pay off the loan early, which would limit the unit owners’ ability to pay off their portion early. In my experience, that particular term of the loan would be unusual but not unheard of. You might ask the Board to refinance the loan with a lender that would allow the association to pay back the loan early if unit owners wanted to do so, However, that is easier said than done as a new loan would carry additional closing fees and costs. My advice would be to simply make your increased common fee payments until the loan is retired or ask the Board to look into refinancing the loan in a year or two, especially if loan rates stay low. Good luck!

Current Condo Owner Cited for Previous Owner’s Unapproved Modification

J.F. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve owned my condo for nearly three years. I have put it on the market attempting to sell it. After posting it online, the condo company contacted me stating that my in-suite washer/dryer was never approved by the condo board (it was installed by previous owners). I was not aware of this at the time I purchased the condo. They are saying that I need to have an inspection (at my cost) to insure that it is vented correctly and to obtain signed papers stating the same to present to the board. If it is not vented properly (which I think might be the case), they told me that I need to have them removed and pay for any damage it caused to the building. I don’t think this is my responsibility as I was not made aware of any of this when I bought the condo. The condo company claims they have no record of this and no record of any of the previous owners and that it is my responsibility to find the previous owners. I hardly feel that any of this my responsibility. The realtors I bought the condo with have not been helpful in getting information on previous owners. My condo is currently on the market so I want to get this cleaned up as quickly as possible so as not to deter potential buyers. Shall I get a lawyer involved?

Mister Condo replies:

J.F., I am sorry to say that you are likely on the hook for this previous owner’s unapproved washer/dryer installation, regardless of your lack of knowledge. You are the owner of record when the violation was cited and, as such, you are the person who needs to put your unit back in conformance with the association. You may have a case to sue the previous owner for making an unapproved modification to their unit but that is likely going to be a futile effort. I’d rather see you focus your resources on getting your unit in compliance as quickly as possible so that you can make an unencumbered sale to a new owner. I can’t imagine that this process is going to be terribly expensive but, nevertheless, if you think you can track down a previous owner and bring a suit against them for your damages, I wouldn’t discourage you as long as there was enough money at risk to make it worth your while. Otherwise, follow the association’s instructions for putting your unit in compliance, make your sale, and move on. All the best!

Unwanted Wildlife in the Condo Attic!

E.B. from Tolland county writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a free-standing 55 and over condo unit and think we may have birds, mice or bats in our attic. For the past 5 or 6 weeks, my cats have been constantly looking at the ceiling, both from the floor and from the tops of furniture. I’ve visually checked the attic by standing on a ladder placed through the access panel on 3 occasions but have not seen anything. I also threw moth balls around but that hasn’t seemed to help. I haven’t crawled around to check more closely such as around the perimeter and under the insulation but at 73 years old, I don’t think it would be very safe to do so. I would like to have a professional check it out and would like to know if it’s my responsibility or the association’s responsibility to do so.

Mister Condo replies:

E.B., I am sorry you have unwanted visitors in your attic. My primary question to you is: who owns the attic? If it is your attic and not connected to your neighbors’ attics as well, it might be you. However, it is not uncommon for the association to own the roof and the attic, which would make the wildlife removal their responsibility. You really need to look at your condo’s governance documents to see who owns the attic. The attic owner is the responsible party and should take immediate steps to remove the creatures. In addition to the noise annoyance, there is a very real danger from animal dropping creating toxic mold. Best to get these critters removed as soon as possible, Good luck!

Condo Roof Access Required for Maintenance

J.H. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the Florida law on condominium unlocked or locked roof access? This is not a roof deck this is a roof access for maintenance issues only.

Mister Condo replies:

J.H., I am neither an attorney nor an expert in Florida Community Association laws so I cannot offer you any legal advice here. You should seek out an attorney to get a legal answer to your question. I will say that if the association needs to access your roof for maintenance issues, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t allow them the access. How else could they perform the needed maintenance? While I don’t know what the laws specifically say about allowing access to a maintenance person onto your roof to perform maintenance that benefits you and other association members, if it were me, I would allow the access. All the best!

How to Enforce a Condo Rule Violation

E.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How do I write a letter to a resident about removing commercial vehicles off the condominium grounds? Commercial vehicles are not allowed on property and is indicated in Docs.

Mister Condo replies:

E.P., enforcing the association’s rules about commercial vehicle parking is a simple enough task. It is no different than enforcing any other rule of the association. Typically, a letter is sent to the unit owner describing the complaint against the unit owner and the subsequent rule of the association that was broken. The unit owner is usually summoned to appear before the Board and explain why they broke the rule or deny they broke the rule. Then the Board takes action as outlined in the documents. That is usually a fine for breaking the rule and instructions to the unit owner to please not break the rule again. Alternatively, if it is a first offense, the Board may choose to simply issue a warning. Hope that help. Good luck!

Condo Board Creates Questionable Parking Regulations

R.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does the Board of Directors have the authority to override terms and conditions established in our governing documents with a plan conceived and designed at a board meeting that does not have majority approval from the community residents? They want to impose a parking plan and tow cars w/o stickers, yet the community document section has a section that addresses unit owner rights to an assigned spot and a section that defines the responsibility of that section. Defined responsibility does not include the mandatory uses of a sticker.

Mister Condo replies:

R.D., I understand your concern about the Board making plans to manage the parking areas. And you are right to be concerned about the lack of majority approval from unit owners before making such plans. However, the Board members were democratically elected by the unit owners to act on behalf of the association. Does your association have a problem with parking? Most associations manage their parking carefully as it is typically a precious resource. That doesn’t mean that the Board can simply pass rules without following the rules for making rules. As long as they have adopted the rules in accordance with their powers as outlined in the association’s governance documents, they are well within their rights to do so. Keep in mind that the community association parking areas is one of the biggest challenges faced by Boards. Unit owners, renters, and guests can make a real mess of limited parking. These new rules may be the association’s best chance at managing the chaos and keeping the parking lots under control. Like all new rules, there will be an adjustment period. Hopefully, no vehicles will actually have to be towed for order to be restored and all residents to have use of the association parking. Good luck!