Tag Archives: Governance

Who Can Enforce the Condo Rules?

S.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Who can enforce the rules?

Mister Condo replies:

S.P., I appreciate a question of simple words. Let me give you a simple answer. The Board of Directors is the democratically elected group of unit owners who can enforce the rules. Unit owners, such as you, can submit violations of rules by other unit owners but it is up to the Board to enforce (or not enforce if they so choose) the rules. If the Board doesn’t enforce the rules, you can always elect new Board members that will enforce the rules. It really is that simple. Hope that help!

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!

Movers Damage Condo Elevator; Tenant Being Held Responsible!

H.R. from Fairfield county writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi! I rent a condo in a 3-floor building. I bought furniture and the delivery guys used the elevator and damaged a little bit inside of elevator. The manager made me go after them to pay to fix it, then they paid like $5000 but when somebody came to fix to change the panel on the wall said the panel are part of the whole wall and need change wall recalibrate elevator and the manager call me again asked me $13000 more to fix it or go after them again. All this start happened before my landlord lost the house with the bank so the manager sent him statements of elevator fees before now and somebody told me if he lost the house that problem is of the bank, the bank takes the condo with all debts? But now the board put that amount under my name. I am the tenant. And I told the condo manager that the rules said the landlord is responsible for any damage of the tenants and visitors of the tenants and she told me that rules change because of state but this happened a year ago when she recognized her condo rules. Help me please if she can make pay even the house is bank owner now is in process of foreclosure.

Mister Condo replies:

H.R., I am sorry for your problems and I am sorry I couldn’t get to your question sooner than now. I expect this problem to be resolved by now but, needless to say, since I am not an attorney, I offer no legal advice or remedies in this column. The association is going to go offer you, your landlord, the moving company, even the new bank holding the mortgage in an attempt to collect the money needed to repair the damaged elevator. It is hard to imagine a moving company doing so much damage to an elevator but that is a matter for the courts once the lawsuits get under way. Your question to me is whether or not you can be found responsible. My answer is that you caused the situation that lead to the damage and that may be enough to hold your partially responsible. My advice would be for you to hire an attorney if you are named in a lawsuit so that you can best protect your legal interests. The party with the most responsibility is the moving company, who it looks like has already paid $5000 ($5000!) for the damage they were initially accused of causing. They may be on the hook for the rest of the cost as well but that doesn’t mean you won’t be named if a lawsuit ensues if they refuse to pay. All the best!

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!

Creepy Crawlies at the Condo!

T.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hello. I am a recent condo owner. I purchased a condo in August of last year. Upon getting things set up in the Condo, I would notice unusual bugs. After a while, I thought that this was too unusual. I have never lived anywhere and encountered the bugs that I saw. I also began to see centipedes. How very unusual in places on the carpet!!! I spoke with my neighbor across from me who also coincidently has the same issue. Upon both of are troubles, we have a damp like moisture smell and see creepy unusual bugs in our condo. We both believe it is from the crawlspace below us. I inform the association last week. She explains to me today; that she had it inspected and found nothing wrong with the crawlspace. She informs me the inspection was done about a week ago. I explain to her that I had my home improvement guy take a look at it this past Saturday; and he inform me that it is wet down in the crawlspace and that a pipe circulating from my laundry room connected to my furnace is dripping water. He also explains to me that bugs are down there. Upon all of this, that explains the earwigs, centipedes and even worms I have encountered in my condo. The condo advisor informed me that she will send the guy back down there to inspect but from this point, I do not believe I am going to get the results I am looking for. It is clear to me that the person the condo advisor sent is either not doing his job efficiently or I hate to say it: A Untrue full Person. My neighbor and I want them to fix the problem. Unfortunately, my neighbor has been dealing with this some years and never got anyone at the time to handle the problem. I am afraid that the condo advisor may come back with the same response: NOTHING IS WRONG. What step can I take to resolve this problem? Unfortunately, I am not authorized to get it fixed myself because it is in a crawlspace. I contacted a few contractors who needed authorization from the condo advisor and the problem with that; they just want to use their own people which are not trustworthy to me. Please help.

Mister Condo replies:

T.P., I am sorry for you and your neighbor’s problems. Infestation of any kind are dangerous, disgusting, and obviously, ruin your condo living experience. I think you are on the right track to having the creepy crawler eliminated, even if the condo advisor turns out to be fully incompetent as you and your neighbor are not going to go away without getting the proper results, which is the removal of the insects and, of course, the repair of the water line that allowed for the infestation and mold problem. Keep on top of the property manager to make sure the work gets done. If it isn’t done to your satisfaction, you simply bring suit against the association. You may need an attorney to assist you but it will be well worth it to go back to enjoying your unit. Hopefully, the infestation can be easily remedied once the leaky pipe is repaired. 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!