F.C. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our association needs to replace our roofs. It will require a 2 layer tear off. They did not save enough for the project and they need to borrow money to do so. They were supposed to be ready for next month but need to redo the bylaws so they can go for a loan. They need us to vote on the bylaw change. They did not complete the process and are pushing it to spring. There are units that have had water damage for a couple years in a row. 2010 ice dams cost us all lots of money. It is very clear by looking at them they need replacing. I asked them what happens if we get leaks this winter. I was told, hopefully we will not have a hard winter. I said, if we do, then we all have to pay assessments for repairs and that will be more money on top of new roofs. My question is can I reroof my own unit using an approved vendor and make myself exempt from incurring further repair costs? If I cannot do that and my roof does leak, will my insurance company pay for interior damage or a special assessment because they are negligent?
Mister Condo replies:
F.C., I am sorry your association, you, and your fellow unit owners find yourselves in this predicament. You cannot and should not reroof your unit. The association should not “approve a vendor” for such a job. You cannot make yourself exempt from incurring future repair costs. These are all the realities of owning a unit within a condo association. Your governing documents explain the proper procedure for making repairs to common elements such as the roof and the procedure for collecting the funds to do so. The association is not bound to take a loan. In fact, they can simply issue a special assessment using the proper procedures for doing so. If the roofing job would cost $250,000 and there were 50 units in your association, the $250,000 assessment would be divvied up to the unit owners using the percentage of unit ownership formula. For this example, let’s assume all units are equal and the assessment is $5,000 per unit. My guess is that unit owners don’t want to pay that kind of money “on the spot”. That means the community association loan is the next option. As you have seen, that takes time. The condo’s governing documents appear to not allow for the association to take a loan so they are being rewritten, voted upon, and adopted. Until that happens, there simply isn’t any money available for the project, which puts all unit owners at risk. Risk is what insurance is for and claims against insurance can carry their own set of costs in the forms of deductibles and/or denied claims. These, too, have legal recourse under the governing documents. The bottom line is that you need to follow the rules as outlined in the governing documents. Be sure you have plenty of homeowner’s insurance in place to cover any personal loss you might experience. Also, be sure that your fellow unit owners vote, either in person or by proxy, for the needed by-laws revision. Anything that delays the association’s ability to borrow money will delay this project further. Good luck!