W.B. from Caledonia County, Vermont writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I own a condo in a complex with 6 distinct rows built in 3 phases over 10 years due to 2 developer bankruptcies. Some rows are 2 level, some are 3 level. Some have views of the lake, others do not. There is no uniformity of decking type. Some have decks on the second row. Others have ground level decks. 4 of the units, in top row, were built with larger decks than the other 48. They were also built with a circular shape to accommodate a hot tub. I own one such unit. Plumbing & electrical was brought out to the deck by the builder for purpose of a hot tub. I evaluated my options, and eventually purchased the unit with plan to install a hot tub. As a courtesy, I informed the BOD of my intent to install a tub. They are now telling me I cannot. Their argument is that it is not fair for 4 units to be able to install tubs while the others cannot. My argument is: 4 decks were built for a tub, the other 48 were not. It’s an amenity for which we paid. Others got great views, we did not. Others got 3 levels, we only got 2. Different units in different rows offer different amenities. All safety & liability issues associated with a hot tub have been addressed successfully with the BOD. The BOD is hanging their hat on the notion that if they allow the 4 owners to install hot tubs it would be a violation of some unknown law to not allow all 52. Note, I am not asking to modify my deck or change any structures. Our bylaws forbid modifying / enlarging decks. So, 48 owners do not have decks large enough, 4 do – as designed by builder 16 years ago.
Mister Condo replies:
W.B., a nice soak in a hot tub sounds pretty good right about now. I am sorry that you and your Board can’t seem to agree on this fairly straightforward issue. Unfortunately for you, the hot tub wasn’t already installed when you purchased your unit. Clearly, it was the developer’s intention to allow a hot tub seeing as the deck was built to accommodate one. However, since it is now after the fact and the Board is in control of any exterior modifications, it may, in fact, be there call as to whether or not they allow you to install a hot tub. You mention that there are 4 decks large enough to allow hot tubs? Have any of the other 3 actually installed a hot tub? Were any of those hot tubs installed at purchase or while the association was under developer control? Has the Board allowed any hot tub installations since they have controlled the association? All of these answers will help you make a case for getting the Board’s permission to install your own hot tub. Of course, you might want to speak to an attorney to see if there is any loophole I am unaware of to boost a legal challenge to the Board but I think it is best that you provide all the answers to their questions and hope they see it your way. All the best!