R.P. from Cleveland, Ohio writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have been fighting with the association for 5 years to fix my roof. The shingles are shot. They say there is no money. What recourse can I take?
Mister Condo replies:
R.P., greetings to you in Ohio! Unfortunately, associations without the proper amount of funds to properly maintain their common elements are not uncommon these days. Association Reserves, a company that prepares Reserve Studies all across the country, has documented as many as 3 out of 10 associations are inadequately funded (sounds like yours) and that an additional 4 out of 10 don’t have a large enough Reserve Fund. And so the cries of disgruntled unit owners like you are being heard all around the country. There is hope and all is not lost.
You have already begun a conversation with your Board and that is a good place to start. Have they received an estimate on your repair job? Is yours the only unit with damages shingles? Most likely, all of the unit are in need of a new roof so the Board may need to either borrow the money to complete the repair (if they are eligible to do so; many are not) or they can levy a special assessment against all of the units so that the roof replacement can move forward. You and your fellow unit owners may not like that as a special assessment could cost you thousands but the Board will have no choice if adequate Reserve Funds have not been collected over the years.
The next step is building a proper Reserve Fund so you aren’t having this same conversation in 7 years when the siding needs to be replaced or in 10 years when the parking lot needs to be replaced. The association should consider investing in a professional Reserve Study and then following the recommendations which are very likely going to include a significant increase to the monthly common fees. Again, unit owners are not likely to be happy with this solution but there is only one place that the necessary money can come from and that is the unit owners.
Of course, if this is just a case of them not repairing your unit and other units are in good order, consult an attorney and consider bringing suit against the Board for failing to maintain the common elements as called for in the association’s governance documents. 5 years is too long to wait for this type of repair; a lawsuit will get their attention and cause them to take action. Good luck!