M.W. from Rockingham County, New Hampshire writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
144 Condo Units built in 1985. In local County Deeds is stated our condo complex has “Shared User Agreement” with different Condo Complex on same road. Shared expenses include water, sewer, road and some electric on road. We, as Unit Owners have always paid our monthly condo dues which included these “shared expenses”. On April 24, 2014, our Board consulted with an attorney and attorney stated, “No JUA on file in registry”. We, as Unit Owners were never made aware of this and have continued to pay same monthly condo fee. Sept 2019, our Property Manager sent us All an email stating: “Other Condo Complex is suing Our Complex for non-payment of “shared expenses” since April 24, 2014”. (Board’s Attorney was wrong) We, as Unit Owners may have to pay special assessment for paying back, yet, we have always paid the same condo fee amount. We have the same Board President as we had April 24, 2014. We, as Unit Owners are NOT allowed to ask questions to Board, Property Manager and new Board’s (since Sept 2019) attorney. In Sept 2019, this issue was slated for Superior Court, January, 2020 by other Condo Complex. It is soon to be in mitigation 45-60 days after Sept 2019 Annual Meeting. What kind of recourse do We, as Unit Owner’s have if told “Special Assessment” to pay back other Condo Complex? I have gone and printed out all legal documents re: “Shared User Agreements” between our Condo Complex and other Condo Complex at local county NH Deeds. I have sent to Property Manager and she forwarded to Board’s (new) Sept 2019 Attorney. No communication from Property Manager.
Mister Condo replies:
M.W., you have hit upon an issue that is the purview of attorneys. Settling legal disputes such as this is what they do. Unfortunately, whether your attorney prevails or loses, the cost of the litigation and subsequent determination of cost that will be passed to the association will fall squarely upon the unit owners of record if and when an assessment is levied. As a unit owner, you really don’t have an individual say in the proceedings. All you can do is pass on any relevant information you uncover to provide to the Board, via the Property Manager if that is how they want you to do it, so that they may share with the association’s attorney in an attempt to get a positive outcome for the association. While the proceedings are going on, here are a few things to keep in mind. The attorney works for the Board. The attorney cannot take calls from individual unit owners, especially while billing the association hourly fees. The Property Manager also works for the Board although providing customer service and information to unit owners is typically part of the job. Keep in mind that this is a legal matter and the Property Manager is not the legal representative of the association and cannot offer legal advice of any kind. Finally, the Board members dealing with the attorney and this issue were elected by you and your fellow owners to do just this. They are the only ones empowered to handle the proceedings. I am sure they will let you know what is going on when they feel it is the right time. If you don’t particularly care for who is on your Board, you and the other unit owners can vote them out at a future election. My guess is that the lawyers will do what the lawyers need to do and some sort of settlement will be reached. The good news is that once this issue is litigated, it will likely not haunt you or your fellow association members again. Good luck!