P.L. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
What is your opinion regarding an association board denying the request of a homeowner who wants to remove 2 skylights (at their cost) prior to receiving a new roof?
Mister Condo replies:
P.L., skylights are always a challenging part of the roofing equation for condominiums. I have heard the argument that they increase value. I have heard the argument that they are costly to maintain by the association. I have even heard the argument that a unit owner would like them removed as they let in too much light and heat in summer and make it difficult to sleep during rainy nights. Whatever the argument, the skylights were in place when the unit owner made the purchase of the unit so they cannot be too disappointed that they are kept in place during their occupancy of the unit. Most condo bylaws that I have seen are silent on the subject other than to assign ownership (unit or association) for the maintenance of the skylights. That being said, I know of plenty of associations that have allowed the modification (both removal and installation) of skylights at unit owner expense during a time of roofing. I think it really comes down to the Board and their roofing contractor who has the experience making such modifications. In theory, removing skylights cuts down on the potential liability of the skylight failing which is far less common in modern skylights than those installed just a decade or so ago. My primary question to the Board would be have they ever allowed for skylight removal or addition within the association? If so, they have set a precedent for future requests and could be viewed as discriminating against a particular unit owner by denying their request. If skylight modification has never been allowed then I don’t see where the Board is under any obligation to allow removal or installation of existing or additional skylight during the roofing process. My advice is to confer with your documents and to seek the qualified opinion of a roofing specialist. If the roofing specialist claims there are no potential drawbacks to the association for removing the skylights and the owner is willing to pay for the costs associated with doing so, the Board may change their mind and allow it. Keep in mind that they may be under no obligation to allow the change so my advice is to ask politely and make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Good luck!