A.K. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a 6-unit condominium, which is self-managed by a Board consisting of all tenants (in accordance with bylaws). The majority of the board annually votes against increasing condominium fees to make much needed repairs in order to keep their monthly fees low. I have made repeated attempts to get needed repairs completed, volunteered and completed repairs on my own despite my better judgement, voted in favor of fee increases to support repairs, etc. I finally had it and requested mediation. The Association never provided mediation, so I opted to sell my property at a loss (the Board/ownership changed over time and gradually went south), but I have been unable to do so because of the number of repair items to the building and common areas that are required. Do I have a case? What rights do I have to getting these repairs? I am so frustrated!
Mister Condo replies:
A.K., when you say you opted to sell your property at a loss but can’t, I assume the buyer(s) you have attracted have backed out after an inspection or other reason. There is nothing stopping you from selling to a cash buyer or someone who doesn’t particularly care for the dilapidated condition of the common elements. You really need to speak to an attorney to see what rights you have in this situation. Since I am not an attorney, I have no opinion on the legal validity of a lawsuit. Typically, you would need to show the condition of the unit when you bought it and show how the neglect of the association (of which you have been a part) has impacted your unit. To say this would be a difficult case is an understatement. Still, since you want out and can’t sell your unit, you may be able to show how the association’s negligence has harmed you financially. All the courts can do is look at the money. Keep in mind any judgement you might win might also cost you as you are part owner of the association. I think I might try lowering the price even lower or renting out the unit. By all means, speak with an attorney. If nothing else, a lawsuit might motivate the other unit owners to take their responsibilities to the common areas more seriously. What are they waiting for? Their investment is losing money as well. It makes no fiscal sense to put off the inevitable of making the repairs. Good luck!