L.H. from San Francisco County, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a 3-unit building in San Francisco, CA whereby there is one master meter water bill. The units are the following sizes: Unit 1: 1575 square feet 2-person occupancy, Unit 2: 667 square feet 1-person occupancy, Unit 3: 2533 square feet 4-person occupancy. Each owner shall have appurtenant to his unit the following undivided interest in the common area: Unit 1 – 32.41%, Unit 2- 13.72%, Unit 3- 53.87%. Based on this information, can you assist in letting me know if the CC&R or CA law has a specific equation for splitting up cost of water usage? Currently, the unit HOA dues are:
Unit 1: $320 Unit 2: $230 Unit 3: $518
It does not match the common usage percentages, nor the occupancy so do I have grounds to dispute in asking how these numbers are determined? How should the dues be determined?
Mister Condo replies:
L.H., I am not an attorney and offer no legal opinion in this column, The Davis-Sterling Act is the de facto standard for looking up California law on condominiums and HOAs. I am familiar with the Act but I do not know of any provision that would supersede your governance documents. According to my math, your association is collecting $1,068 per month in dues but they aren’t using the prescribed formula as outlined in your condo documents. This is unusual but there may be mitigating circumstances that you have not disclosed or are unaware of. According to a strict interpretation of the listed percentage of unit ownership formula you have provided, the monthly fees should be as follows:
Unit 1: $346.14 Unit 2: $146.53 Unit 3: $575.33You certainly have a right to get an explanation of the actual formula being applied. If you disagree with the formula and the dollar amounts, you can challenge in court, which would lead to arbitration in California. You would then get a legal opinion and judgment to correct any deficiencies, if they truly exist. All the best!