A.D. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a large condo complex which is comprised of three separate Condo Associations. The three associations jointly own a recreation complex. The complex is managed by a separate board which operates under a set of rules agreed to by the three associations. Does the management board also have to follow the requirements of the Common Interest Ownership Act and the Condominium Act? Thanks!
Mister Condo replies:
A.D., that is a great question. Since I am not an attorney I can only offer my opinion on the matter and that opinion is that it depends on what the duties and responsibilities are of the Master Association versus the three associations under it and the folks who own units within the association. Certainly, the three associations in question need to comply with Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), which makes perfect sense as the unit owners have entitled rights and representation which the Act codifies and protects. However, the Master Association may not be subject to the Act if it is strictly a business entity dealing with accounting and maintenance issues. I would think a very simple acid test would be to look at what powers the Master Association has to determine if CIOA applies. Does the Master Association determine and assess common fees and special assessments? Does it enforce rules and regulations, including issuing of warnings and fines? Are the members of the Master Board elected by the majority of all unit owners? Does the Master Association modify the rules and regulations of unit owners within the three associations it oversees? If any of these answers are “yes”, then I think the spirit of the law should apply and CIOA should be followed. If the answer to these questions is “no”, then there may be no need for the Master Association to observe CIOA in its strictest sense.
There is also a question of when the Master Association was founded. January 1, 1984 is an important date as it effects which set of condo governing rules the association was founded upon. Associations founded before then are subject to slightly different rules than those founded after.
The bottom line is that the association’s attorney is probably the right person to ask about the Master Association’s need to follow the CIOA requirements. I am a big fan of associations operating in the light of day so that all association members have access to records and attend meetings when allowed. I think a transparent association is a generally healthy association. All the best!