D.I. from Long Island, New York writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have 11 separate units in our condo association and our current condo docs say we own from the inside walls and association owns the outside. My question is can we change the docs to say we own the complete building.
Mister Condo replies:
D.I., I doubt it. The reason is that a condominium, by definition, is a community association and has legal requirements that make it so. HOAs and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are more in line with an association where the owners of the units own everything. Even then, unit exterior responsibility is usually a combination of rules set by the association on how the unit exteriors are maintained. Additionally, think of all the mortgage companies that granted mortgages based on the definition of the condo at the time of the mortgage. They would have a say in whether or not the documents could be rewritten (or they could simply call in the mortgages – yikes!). My question back to you is why would you want to do such a thing? Is the association failing to properly maintain unit exteriors? If so, elect new leaders who will fix the problem, which may include levying assessments and/or raising common fees so there is enough money to do so. Changing documents is not impossible, mind you, but you will certainly need the assistance of a skilled community association attorney. There are many legal obstacles to making the change but if you are willing to spend the time and money to do so, a skilled attorney can guide you through the process. My advice is not to change a thing. Work through whatever problems you are having and keep your documents in place as is. All the best!