G.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a small, self-governed condo building. The outgoing Trustee recently appointed me as the replacement, as the other owners “don’t want to deal with it.” I found myself pouring over the finances and condo docs. I realized: 1. we were bleeding money as instead of raising dues to cover rising costs, the last Trustee just drained the Reserves; 2. I should be paying less in HOA dues & assessments. It’s a 34/34/32% split, with my share being 32%. Apparently all 3 owners have always split costs evenly. I was prepared to bring up the %s at our annual meeting, but my proposal to raise dues was met with such vitriolic outcry, that I backed off. Now I don’t know what to do. The other unit owners now see me as trying to bleed them dry or get one over on them. One unit is already on a 24-month repayment plan to the HOA and the other is going to grad school and on a tight budget. I get by well enough, so the even split isn’t hurting my finances, but the savings would certainly help! Technically, they couldn’t actually fight me on it since it’s written in our governing docs, but it’s a small building and there have been 2 domestic disturbances in one of the units in the past year, so I’m concerned about potential retribution to my property and person. I have looked into liens, but I’ve heard they can take years and again, I have to live with these people.
Mister Condo replies:
G.A., you certainly have your hands full with this group of owners and the situation that has developed over the years. Now you have a choice to make. You can either help right this sinking ship or you can abandon it. Honestly, given what you told me, my first advice is the latter. Who authorized a 24-month repayment plan? Is it in writing? This delinquent unit owner should be told to pay in full or face the consequences, which includes the association hiring a collection agent and/or attorney that will begin the foreclosure to bring the unit current. Second, of course you should be paying your share of common fees as outlined in the governing documents. This requires no discussion or vote, it is in the governing documents. Third, vitriol has no place in a community association or its governance. It is a business – an uncaring, unfeeling corporation – that needs to be run as such. Money is needed to run the business as outlined in the documents everyone agreed to when they purchased into the association. Domestic disturbances should be reported – and handled – by the police. The association has no authority to enforce the laws when criminal activity occurs. Like I said earlier, if is fight or flight time. If you like where you live, domestic disturbances included, and you feel it is worth fighting for, then stay and run the association like the business that it is. If that seems to tall an order for you, your simplest solution is to sell and let these vitriolic unit owners and deadbeats to their own fate. I know which path I’d take. Good luck!