Condominium Governance Legal

Condo Terrace Maintenance Responsibility

B.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am a member of the board. We have structural cement issues on the terraces and the rest of the board, that does not have a terrace, want to have a special assessment. We have money but we are also doing pointing and windowsill work. They want to take the monies from the non-terrace owners out of the general fund, and bill only the terrace units. The by-laws also are vague and state that repair and maintenance of these limited common areas fall on the unit owners. 

My terrace does not need any structural work. They also plan to have the terrace owners pay for their own scraping and painting of railings. They are trying very hard to get us all involved in this. Some of us took care of our terraces over the years, me for one. Can I protest this and just do my own aesthetic work? They want us all to pay high prices to have this scraping and painting done on the terraces. 

Mister Condo replies:

B.L., your association has entered into a very common dispute over ownership and maintenance of limited common elements. I assume these terraces are for the exclusive use of the unit owners whose terrace is attached to the unit. It would be nice if the by-laws spell out whose responsibility it is to maintain the terraces but that is not apparently the case. You can protest all you want but the Board is likely to prevail, especially f the wording is sketchy about the terrace ownership and maintenance. Limited common elements are not always treated as common elements due the very nature of the unit owner’s exclusive right to use the space. However, if the terraces are determined to be the association’s responsibility as any other common element would be, the terrace’s maintenance would fall upon the association, not the individual owners. This is one of those times where it might pay to have an attorney who is verse in common interest community law take a look at your documents to see if there is, in fact, a determination to be made. If the attorney sides with you, you might be able to persuade the Board to maintain the terraces. If not, the Board may have the final say with little or no recourse from unit owners with terraces. Best of luck! 

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