T.N. from DuPage County, Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
When we purchased our condo, brand new, back in 1991, we had the option of purchasing skylights for our unit. We declined because of the maintenance issues down the road. I believe we may be the only one of 18 units without skylights. The board which is run on our own, wants to allocate money for repair work around all skylights. They consider this roof repair work. We disagree. We are the longest tenured owners in our association and do not feel that money that we paid into monthly for over 27 years, should be used for this purpose and being of no benefit to us. These were added on options at the time of buying these units. We have an optional fireplace which we wouldn’t expect the association to reimburse us every time we need it serviced. Is there a way that we can get a credit equal to the value that these repairs cost per unit? What are our options?
Mister Condo replies:
T.N., skylights are always one of those “are they or aren’t they” items when it comes to roof repair and association responsibility. Most condo documents are silent on the subject, leaving it largely up to the Board to interpret the documents and determine their status as common elements or unit-owned windows. With so many skylights in place, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them treated as common elements. I have one question that might help you determine how they have been treated so far. Have any of them ever failed? They can often leak, especially after 5 or 10 years. Did the association pay for the repair or was it the individual unit owner who paid? Clearly, the skylights directly impact the integrity of the roof. That argument alone can make them be treated as common elements. Your fireplace is not the same as the skylights because it doesn’t necessarily impact roof integrity so that comparison is apples and oranges, in my opinion. Check your documents, check the history of the roof repair, and get a legal opinion if you think you need one. At the end of the day, old skylights need to be maintained. With so many in place, my guess is the association will treat them as a common element. All the best!