L.P. from Delaware writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My condominium association has called for a special meeting to assess owners for a petition to be filed in state of Delaware to lower individual unit owners’ property taxes. They claim that majority wins and even if I am against this initiative I have to pay this assessment. Can this be legal? This initiative is outside the scope of the HOA and does not involve any repairs/common areas or the like of the community. Thank you for your insight.
Mister Condo replies:
L.P., I am neither an attorney nor an expert in Delaware condominium law, so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. For a legal opinion, I must insist you speak with a qualified local attorney, of which you have many in Delaware to choose from. There are two places to look for your answer. The first is in your condo documents, which spells out what the Board is supposed to do for most common situations. You mentioned repairs of the common area and such as typical duties of the HOA. The second place to look would be the Delaware Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act which does detail even more rights of common interest communities such as your condominium association.
As a general rule, the Board of Directors is free to conduct whatever business it sees fit on behalf of the unit owners. I am not quite certain what type of assessment is required to file a petition but if there is a cost and an assessment is required then a vote of the unit owners does need to be held as outlined in your bylaws. Some votes require a simple majority, others require a super majority (as outlined in your documents), still others require unanimous consent or no negative votes against the issue. As you can see, voting on special assessments can be tricky as they carry their own set of rules that do protect your rights. However, if your Board has done everything correctly and the rules say a simple majority carries the vote, you may well have to pay your share of the special assessment.
I have to assume that your Board and your fellow residents see an upside to this course of action. If you and your fellow unit owners are going to benefit from lower taxes after this petition is submitted, the point may be moot. Again, I encourage you to speak with a local attorney who is knowledgeable in this subject matter. I also encourage any of my Delaware readers with insight into this subject matter to express their opinions as well. Good luck!