L.M. from New Haven county, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have lived in a complex for nearly 25 years and while it’s fine, a new board and management company took over. The owners are responsible for their own windows, storm door and garage doors. I have replaced mine but some of the condos have windows that are full on condensation, garage doors that are old and worn/peeled and no storm doors. It’s in our bylaws to maintain this while board takes care of decks. (which by the way haven’t been painted in 30 years!). The complex looks so shabby and the President said there is nothing they can do to make owners maintain windows and doors—so why then do the bylaws state this. Is this true? Owners can let their properties go to pot. This impacts my unit and curbside appeal. I honestly don’t believe this is the case and no one is held accountable. I am so frustrated- can you advise me?
Mister Condo replies:
L.M., like so many older associations, it would appear that yours has done a poor job over the years of collecting enough common fees to fund these completely predictable deteriorated common elements. The current Board is feeling the brunt of this mistake and now finds itself in the midst of dealing with a problem that has been avoided for years. One of three things will happen. The Board can address the problem and issue a Special Assessment of all owner to cover the cost of the needed repairs for the common elements owned by the association – roofs, building exteriors, common grounds like parking, etc.. The Board can seek an HOA loan to cover these costs. Or, the Board can do nothing and the deterioration will continue until there is a building failure – water leak or worse, catastrophic failure of a building like a deck collapse. Raising capital through Special Assessment or loan is likely to be unpopular with owners as they will have to bear the costs. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse but that is a common scenario as dealing with the problem is expensive and usually unpopular with owners whose support is needed by Board Members wishing to be reelected. All you can do as an owner is bring the problem to the Board’s attention and urge them to act appropriately. If enough owners feel the same way, the Board is likely to raise the money and fix the problem. Otherwise, expect more of “there is nothing we can do” as a response from the Board because they are right. Without money there is nothing they can do. As for individual unit repairs that are the responsibility of the unit owner, they can enforce the rules but it would appear they are choosing not to. That is unfortunate but not out of character for what you have described here. If it were me, I would assess the situation and either double down on my efforts to “save” the community or I would sell my unit and move elsewhere. This community is in a lot of trouble and the repair is going to be expensive. All the best!
2 thoughts on “Condo Complex Defects are the Tip of the Iceberg”
IF the community is generally committed to the place looking good then the best solution is for the association to pay for the garage doors and storm doors being replaced. If not , it is very hard to expect a board to enforce owners fixing them one by one, there will be endless arguments, they will cost more to replace one by one, may look different in each case, and in total cost the owners much more than a competitive bid to replace them all uniformly. This is regardless of if the documents say they are owner or association responsibility. Change the conversation, change the board, or leave are the reasonable solutions.
This new board/President lacks gumption at a point it is sorely needed. Most of these items sound like limited common. Since the bylaws say there is authority / responsibility, it is probably a lack of interest from the general population. It is a bad spiral. If this board gets a vacancy, try to get appointed, in order to have influence. It is easier when you are on the board and in a driver’s seat, than trying to steer from the back of the bus. You can look into loan programs for energy efficient renovations such as windows, for unit owners to take on. They used to be called CHIF loans. A seasoned condo atty could help with options if the board is willing to make a commitment. Here is a link. https://www.capitalforchange.org