A.B. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in one half of a 2-unit condo – very acrimonious – neither one has ever paid condo fees – how does a single unit owner (unilaterally and without cooperation from the other) establish a budget/common expenses, so as to make legal any assessment (and subsequent mortgagee notice for failure to pay)?
Mister Condo replies:
A.B., it sounds lovely and acrimonious – until it isn’t! Seriously, your condo documents should outline your schedule of common fees and percentage of unit ownership contributions for common expenses. It could be as simple as each owner paying half or it could be based on some other formula (60% / 40%, 75% / 25%, whatever). Use that formula to determine what each of you owes towards the common expense and that should settle it. Ideally, the two of you will agree on a reasonable amount to set aside for future expenses of common elements that are wearing down as we speak (the roof, the siding on the condo, the parking lot, etc.) as well as the typical common expenses for the year (if any). Neither of you owns the association. The association is an independent third party here. As long as it stays acrimonious, no problem. You mention notification to mortgage company for failure to pay an assessment so I am guessing you are anticipating a problem. That is where your negotiation skills will be tested or you will need to hire an attorney. All the best!