Tag Archives: Condominium

HOA Seeking Additional Assessment from Former Owner

P.J. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can an HOA increase assessment amount 8 months after I sold condo and deed changed hands? The management co. made an error in what they call the “estimate” of their closing figures which were baked into the sale amount (buyer paid the assessment and price was lowered accordingly). Now they say I (previous owner) have to pay more even though the sale cleared title and resale cert was all normal. The letter tells me I owe more than what they thought I owed when they gave the figures at closing time.

Mister Condo replies:

P.J., this is clearly a legal question for a qualified attorney in your state. Different states handle these transactions differently so I cannot give you a definitive answer for your scenario. I will offer this advice. Once the sale is made and the closing is over and the title has changed hands, the seller is typically relieved of any further claims against the unit. In other words, if the HOA makes a Special Assessment after your name is off the title, that assessment is on the new unit owner. There are exceptions though and you really need to speak with an attorney from your state who can give you a proper legal answer for your situation. The way you have described it sounds fishy to me but I am not an attorney and cannot offer you any legal opinion here. I know I would be reviewing the details with a qualified attorney to make sure I was being dealt with fairly and within the scopes of local law. All the best!

Condo Price Rebound After Settled Lawsuit

J.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo dropped significantly in value just like every other condo community around us when the economy collapsed in 2008. In the meantime, our HOA began a litigation against the builder. This meant that when prices of other communities began to rebound a few years ago, ours remained low because mortgages were generally unavailable to purchasers and it has been all cash sales. All other condo communities surrounding us have now rebounded to pre-recession value, but our community has remained low in price due to the litigation. We just received notice that all parties have settled and the court ruling will be within the next couple weeks. We would like to sell our condo and are wondering how long it will take to see our condo value rebound now that the litigation has ended. Can we start using other similar communities as real estate “comps”? Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

J.B., I am sorry your condo association was forced into litigation against a developer. Lawsuits can have long-lasting repercussions against associations including the financial burden of funding the suit when monies could be used elsewhere or put in Reserve, creating a strong financial position for the condo, which is desirable to an educated purchaser. That being said, if your condos look as nice as others in your market, there is no reason to think the units shouldn’t rebound now that mortgages are available. Price is driven by market demand. An encumbrance like a lawsuit can hinder demand but with the suit out of the way, I can’t think of any reason the prices shouldn’t rebound quickly. Make sure the unit is in good shape and that the association is doing all it can to keep the curb appeal in good order. The right realtor will market the unit properly and the market will dictate the price. Good luck!

Condo Owner’s Cat Roams Freely on Common Grounds

L.K. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo association. I have a cat that goes outside. One day my cat killed a bird and one of the neighbors in the condo association came to me and was very upset about it, asking if I could rehome my pet, which I promptly told her I was not going to do that. She then demanded that I keep my cat indoors, which I told her I would try to do, but couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t get out from time to time. She then threatened to write a complaint to the board if I couldn’t keep the cat indoors. Our bylaws state that we can have two pets, and that you must clean up after them and keep them if they are dogs leashed. Does this neighbor have a case against us?

Mister Condo replies:

L.K., without seeing your physical condo documents and reading what they say about pet ownership, it is impossible for me to offer you an opinion. Typically, pets are not allowed to free roam on condo grounds. There are usually leash rules in addition to clean-up rules and noise rules as well. If your association has no such rule about having the pet leashed, your neighbor may not have a case. However, allowing a pet to roam free over condo grounds can have other consequences for the association, most notably liability for damage or injury caused by the pet. For that reason alone, pets (dogs, cats, or other) are typically required to be leashed and under the unit owner’s control and supervision. My friendly advice to you is to not let your pet roam freely. It is safer for you, your neighbors, and your association, not to mention the occasional bird you kitty might decide to feast on. Good luck!

Condo Changes Rules on Motorcycle Parking

D.B. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Rule change. Old rule 2 car limit with parking pass/sticker. Could also have motorcycle in your designated parking space or designated motorcycle area and not considered 3rd vehicle. No parking sticker needed. Plenty of guest spots to park. New rule says motorcycle is considered vehicle and total vehicles allowed per unit is 2 vehicles. Been in Condo 8 years. 5 years with 2 vehicles and 1 motorcycle. Seems unreasonable after the fact.

Mister Condo replies:

D.B., the real question here is whether or not the motorcycle should be considered a vehicle. Since it is registered as a vehicle with the state, the Board is simply using the state’s definition of a vehicle and applying it to the association’s rules on parking. What you are really looking for here is a variance that distinguishes a motorcycle from an automobile so that there can be different rules for motorcycles with respects to parking. You can write to your Board to explain your case and they may or may not grant your request. The democratically elected Board is the voice of unit owners like yourself. If there are enough fellow motorcycle owners who take issue with the new rule, you need to vote in directors who will see it your way. Otherwise, the common areas like parking lots are under the Board’s purview and the rules need to be followed. Good luck!

Does Condo’s Two Car Parking Limit Extend to Handicapped?

A.D. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi. I live in a condominium complex that has several handicapped parking spots. Our board of directors recently enacted a two car per unit parking limitation. I am disabled and use one of our handicapped parking spots with a valid placard. Can the BOD’s legally tow my car from our parking lot while the placard is visibly displayed?

Mister Condo replies:

A.D., I am not fully sure I understand your question. Are you parking more than two cars on the common parking areas? If so, you are violating the new rule and the Board may have the ability to have your car towed for the infraction. If you are simply parking your car in a designated handicapped area and not violating the association’s two car rule or any other parking rule, I can’t think why you would think your car would be towed. If you are using your two car allotment for other vehicles AND you park your third car in the handicapped parking area, one of your extra cars (maybe your handicapped placard car) may be subject to towing as you are in violation of the association’s parking rules. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Good luck!

Who Pays for New Condo Screen Doors?

J.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am part of a three-unit condo association. The association is looking to purchase screen doors for all three units. One of the units has one door and the other two unit have two doors so we would purchase a total of 5 doors. We plan to use condo fees funds to pay for doors. Is it equitable in using fees for one door for one unit and two doors for the other two? Is there a simple way to decide how it is more equitable? That is, we all pay the same quarterly dues but we are using more money for two of the units for the doors than we are using for the one condo with only one door. Does it come down to if all agree we just go with it?

Mister Condo replies:

J.W., it all comes down to what your condo documents say about common elements. Typically, all common elements are owned by the association to build, maintain, and repair. If that is the case for these doors then that is the formula you should use regardless of how many doors are on each unit. That is because the common fees are collected using the same formula for paying for the purchase, installation, and maintenance and repair of these doors. If the doors are the unit owner’s responsibility, then each unit owner would buy the doors attached to their unit and would be responsible for their repair and upkeep as well. I have seen it done both ways so it really boils down to what your condo documents say about it. If they are silent on the subject then it may come down what you all agree to. Otherwise, follow your documents. Good luck and enjoy your new screen doors!

Amended Condo Deed Trumps Board’s Forgetfulness

K.F. from New Jersey writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m a New Jersey Real Estate salesperson representing a seller of a Penthouse unit in a 5 story walk up in a 6-unit Condo. When my client purchased her unit in 2009 she was also given an amended deed that included the exclusive right to build an approved deck on the roof. The board met last week and in their Minutes decided to retain the roof rights (now that my client wants to sell). They don’t seem to be aware/remember that the roof rights were gifted and deeded and has been filed with the city/county. What rights do they have to take back roof rights if any at all?

Mister Condo replies:

K.F., Boards have no more rights than you or I when it comes to taking back anything that has been filed on a deed. In fact, this is a classic example of where an attorney can likely solve this for you with a few letters or phone calls showing the deed. The Board’s “memory” of the event is irrelevant, regardless of what they have put in their Minutes. If they take action against your client, the attorney will simply counter with the Deed. One caveat: is there any stipulation on the deed that would indicate that the approved deck had to be installed by a certain date? If that date has come and gone then your client is out of luck. Other than that, this sounds like a fairly simple case to me but I am not an attorney. Have your client speak with an attorney who specializes in real estate, get a legal opinion, and good luck selling this Penthouse condo unit. It sounds gorgeous!

Condo Speed Bumps Needed for Pedestrian Safety

L.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo board refuses to put in speed bumps to regulate traffic speeds through the townhome complex. Instead, they put up signs saying “slow down, we love our pets and children”. This reactive approach scares a lot of us since there are a lot of young children that live in the complex. Can they be reported for negligence or do we all have to wait until someone gets hit by a car before that?

Mister Condo replies:

L.A., the streets and condo parking lots are association-owned property. As such, they are under the purview of the Board. If they have placed signs up asking residents to slow down, that is their prerogative. If there have not been any accidents or pedestrian strikes by vehicles, it could be argued that the signs were enough. Speed bumps are not a requirement anywhere as far as I know, especially on private property such as condos. You can send a letter to the Board stating your concern for the safety of pedestrians in your community. The Board may or may not take action on your request. However, the Board Members are elected by the majority of unit owners. If the majority of unit owners want speed bumps, it would make sense to elect Board Members that will follow the will of the majority of unit owners. Perhaps you or one of your like-minded unit owners would consider running for the Board in order to see that gets done. That is the best way to make sure you get what everyone wants. Good luck!

Former Condo Board Member Maligned by Fellow Board Member

T.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I was on a condominium board for several years, sometimes having to do two positions. At one point, I was the President and Treasurer. My question is that I wasn’t very good at keeping receipts. I would occasionally give them to the manager. but when a check was written I put a memo where that check went and to whom.
Now I have an ex-board member that thinks I took money. How can I defend myself if I do not have the receipts to prove all of the transactions? He said he has the bank statement. What can that prove?

Mister Condo replies:

T.S., thank you for your service to your community. Seems that no good deed goes unpunished here. If you are being accused of a crime, you should speak with an attorney in order to defend yourself. If you are being slandered by an ex-board member, you might want to speak to an attorney about what rights you have to stop this slandering. Bank statements are nothing more than a record of checks, deposits, and transfers. If you didn’t write any checks to yourself or transfer any money into your private account, you likely have nothing to worry about. Someone “thinking” you took money is far different from someone claiming you took money and filing a criminal report against you. If you have nothing to hide, you can confront this person and ask them to either prove their allegations or stop slandering you or you will sue them. That will usually quiet a contentious accuser who cannot prove his/her case. Remember that in this country you are innocent until proven guilty. From what you have shared with me, you did nothing wrong and there is no proof that you did. That really is the end of the story. Good luck!

Mishandled Condo Elevator Maintenance Contracts Causes Special Assessment

M.C. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in Florida, so I will take your advice in good faith, but: we are being charged a special assessment of almost $2000 to repair the elevators of the condo complex. Normally I would have no complaint, but the reason the Special Assessment has become necessary is because of poor management of the repair contracts of the original repair work that was in budget.

Basically, the elevators were to be fixed and brought up to Florida building code nearly a year ago. However, the Board did not sign any labor contract and paid for the work up front. At some point, the work was abandoned and the elevators have stayed in disrepair and out of inspection compliance (which they were fined for) until a few weeks ago. The Special Assessment of almost $2000 per unit owner has arisen as a result of not signing those original labor contracts and the abandoned work being paid for with maintenance budget funds.

Bottom line, I want the elevators fixed, so I will pay the assessment. But, do we have any legal recourse against the board to recover those funds as a “breach of fiduciary responsibility”?

Mister Condo replies:

M.C., in my non-legal opinion, you do not have recourse against the Board. From what you have described there was no premeditated malfeasance or crime, just some poor business decisions that caused an increase in the overall expense of the association-owned asset. It may have managed less than ideally but I don’t see any breach of duty here. Hopefully, there has been a lesson learned and there will be better stewardship of the elevator maintenance program moving forward. Of course, Board Members are democratically elected volunteers from within your association and they do need to run for reelection at some point. If you feel there are better candidates for the position, you and your fellow unit owners will have opportunity to replace them with different volunteers at some point. All the best!