A.D. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo board has admitted to keeping a portion of owner’s monthly and payoff payments designated for special assessment loans, and using them for other purposes. Can they do this?
Mister Condo replies:
A.D., well, apparently, they could and they did! The question is should they have done that? The short answer is that monies that are designated for Special Assessments can only be collected and used for the Special Assessment they were collected for. There is a good reason for that. If an association has not saved enough money over the years for vital components such as a roof replacement, a Special Assessment can be levied on the current homeowners to pay for that vital component. Any monies collected for that specific reason and not spent on that item need to be returned to the homeowners. Homeowners may elect to let the association keep those unspent funds and roll them into their operating fund or put them towards another item but the homeowners need to have a vote in order to do so. The Board cannot simply reallocate the money on their own. However, unless someone (like you) challenges on this action, it will likely go unchecked. Depending on the amount of the money in question, it may be a moot point. If you and enough of your fellow homeowners question the Board’s decision, the money collected under the Special Assessment that did not get used for the Special Assessment intention could be returned to the homeowners. If they need more money to run the association, they need to propose an increase to common fees at the next Annual Budget meeting so that homeowners can vote in support of the new budget. Otherwise, the Board is effectively bypassing the homeowners right to control how their money is being spent. That’s bad business for the Board, the homeowners, and the association. Good luck!