F.T. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a cooperative having 15 buildings. Each building has four units. About ten years ago the cooperative had to replace the front doors to each unit to meet fire code. When this was done each unit was assessed for the cost. When the door replacement took place it disabled the front door bells on a number of buildings. This situation has never been corrected. Thus, when guests and delivery people come to the buildings’ front door and ring the nonworking bell, they receive no response. When shareholders complain about this situation, they are told by the board to install their own remote-controlled bells. Are proper working bells on the outside of the building the responsibility of the cooperative? Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
F.T., I imagine this disabling of the previously functioning doorbells has coop unit owners quite upset, and rightfully so. I am not certain as to their “responsibility” in this matter but I would think they should respond to owner demand or get voted out of office. After all, if they are not behaving in the best interest of unit owners, why should they be reelected? I imagine that the Board is under no absolute obligation to return the doorbells to their previously operable condition unless functioning doorbells are part of the governance documents but surely they, too, are inconvenienced by the silencing of the bells. There is likely language about them keeping common elements in good working order but whether or not that could be extended to doorbells is a question for the association attorney. As an easier solution, I would encourage you and fellow coop owners to contact your Board and ask them to look into a feasibility study from an electrician to see how difficult and how expensive it would be to get the bells back in working order. It might require another special assessment to handle the cost of replacement, but from what you have told me, that wouldn’t deter unit owners. They just want their doorbells back in working order. If the feasibility study shows that the cost to restore the doorbells is, in fact, exorbitant, the Board should publish standards for wireless doorbell chimes. There are many makes and models to choose from and if all unit owners were free to choose their own, a bit of chaos and ugliness could ensue. This is a project that is best managed by the Board and since they have control of the community’s architectural compliance authority, they could use that authority to dictate a uniform make and model for the doorbells. Again, they could offer to install and pay for the cost of the doorbells and pass that cost along to unit owners in the form of a special assessment. All the best!