L.S. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
What can you do if the management company doesn’t enforce the bylaws of owners the condo complex is turning into such a mess. Damaged windows, ripped screens, garbage on decks, signs in windows. It’s so disappointing. Letter after letter, nothing gets results. Now my property values are going down because of mismanagement. Do you know our decks haven’t been painted in 25 years?
Mister Condo replies:
L.S., time to take back your association! While the management company isn’t doing itself any favor by having your association as a client, your disappointment is misdirected. The democratically elected Board of your association is to blame. They hire, manage, and direct the work of the management company. My guess is the problem is much deeper than simple mismanagement. When I see properties in as bad a shape as yours, I can usually tell from looking at the Reserve Fund (or lack thereof) that the association hasn’t been collecting the proper amount of common fees for a very long time, often a decade or longer. Unfunded or underfunded capital reserve accounts lead to “deferred maintenance” (a polite term for “no money”). Deferred maintenance leads to exactly the type of trouble you have today. The good news is there is a solution. The bad news is your current owners may not like it or be willing to accept the inevitable. Common fees must be raised. The Reserve Fund must be funded. The community must elect Board Members who are going to embrace fiscal responsibility and tackle these projects. The management company may or may not be part of the problem but they aren’t the ones who direct the budget. That is a responsibility of the Board. Perhaps you are incensed enough to take on the challenge of getting your association upright. It will not be a popular decision and it is entirely possible that your fellow association members will reject the notion because they simply can’t afford it. I lived in such an association once. The day I sold and got out was one of the happiest of my life. All the best!