J.R. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our association is working diligently to do maintenance projects as fast as we can in a complex built in 70’s without burdening owners more than reasonable. We raised fees $50 two years ago. We schedule needed common area upkeep at a responsible rate. We have had a few winter crisis interrupting the planned work. Question: when a unit is up for sale, is the board obligated to set aside the planned work to bring their unit up to the required inspector’s request when it is not a safety or leak issue? Example: Yes, we know the unit could use new gutters but it is not on the current list of priorities. It is on a list for next year, hopefully, but we cannot meet the closing date of the sale. It would mean assessing the owners again and since we are trying to get a loan for our long-term work list we don’t want an assessment, too. Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
J.R., I am not aware of any requirement for the association to meet the requests of a buyer or seller based on an inspector’s report. The inspector’s report is for the benefit of the buyer and it is to alert them to potential problems or deficiencies in the unit prior to them making the decision to purchase. The report is also used as a tool for further negotiating the purchase price as there are often items highlighted in the report that may need to paid for by the buyer in short order. Perhaps some faulty plumbing was uncovered or a trash disposal unit not functioning correctly. If these items require repair at the owner’s expense, they may wish to ask for a few hundred dollars off the selling price to make the repairs. Association-owned assets such as gutters are another story entirely. Since the unit owner is not responsible for the upkeep of these assets, the inspector should still note them so that the buyer is aware of the situation and can take it into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase. In cases of extreme neglect, I have known sellers to bring suit against the association for failure to maintain the building exterior that has caused a financial loss to the seller but these cases are rare. Also, since the association has a plan in place to make the repairs, it would be difficult for a seller to claim there was no plan for upkeep in place. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney and your association find itself being sued by any of the parties involved, the association would be well advised to seek qualified advice from a community association attorney verse in such matters. Good luck!