B.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Since August of 2014, I have been requesting that my front deck/steps be repaired and repainted. It is now one year later, and despite numerous follow up requests, my front steps are becoming unstable and are sore on the eyes. I’m trying to get my condo on the market to sell but the realtor has advised me that I’ve never going to sell with the steps in their current condition. They might not even pass inspection. The HOA is refusing to do any repairs due to lack of funds in the maintenance account. What steps can/should I take in order to get the repairs needed? I’m hesitant to contract any work on my own as that could open a new can of worms.
Mister Condo replies:
B.B., this is a most unfortunate situation. Your association, and your association alone, is the body responsible for making repairs to the common elements of your unit. Further, you cannot and should not make any alterations or repairs to the stairs in front of your unit as you are not the owner of the common element. Generally speaking, you have done all that you can do. You have made note of the poor condition and submitted your request for the repair to be made to the Board and the Board has refused to make the repair. Regardless of the reason, they are the responsible party.
Here’s where my advice can get a little costly. Your only other option is to sue the Board to make the repairs. You are being financially harmed by their willful negligence and they have not fulfilled their contract to maintain the common elements. You will have to pay for an attorney to bring suit unless you can do it yourself. The Board will have to spend money to defend against the suit (which they will likely lose) and then they will have to come up with the money to make the repairs, which will likely yield a Special Assessment for you and all other unit owner within the association. The reality is that your association hasn’t been collecting enough common fees for a long time and that has lead to the Board not having access to the necessary funds when needed for repairs like yours. Underfunded Reserves are a “lose/lose” situation for unit owners. It generally leads to run-down common elements and big problems when unit owners wish to sell, as in your case. Good luck!