C.B. from Oklahoma writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have an old condo complex that was built in 1964. Needless to say, we cannot afford new roofs (one million dollars to replace them all) so we patch them the best we can. We have an owner who just bought a condo last year and had a small leak. Her ex took down all the sheetrock when he was told not to do that. Our roofer has been out here many times for the leaks. The owner has been calling our vendor all the time and we told her to stop. What can we do?
Mister Condo replies:
C.B., it’s too bad that your condo association didn’t do a better job or planning and saving for something as predictable as a roof replacement. I am sorry that the association cannot afford new roofs but that is no excuse for not finding a way to pay for and replace them now or very soon. Special assessments, HOA loans, increased common fees are all very likely needed to get the association back on track. Patching them is not a valid solution and you might just find some unit owners who will not accept that answer and decide to sue the association for negligence. As for the unit owner calling the vendor directly, you simply instruct the vendor to stop taking her calls and refer her to the Board, who is the responsible party for the leaky roof she now has. Low common fees are appealing in the short term but, as your association has seen first-hand, the lack of funds for proper maintenance and repair require planning and fiscal adjustments over time. I assume the association doesn’t have a Reserve Study or Reserve Fund. The Study will explain when common elements are likely to need replacement while the Reserve Fund will assure that today’s unit owners are contributing to the common elements they are using so that there will be funds available to pay for the replacement of those aged common elements in the future. I hope your association will heed my advice and stop putting off the inevitable. Patching is typically a waste of money and costlier than actually replacing the roof, not to mention the problems that leaky roofs will cause unit owners and the association over time. Good luck!