A.K. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am interested in purchasing a condo, with a basement, adjoined by a spiral staircase. Town Hall says they are considered two separate units, with two deeds. The basement is considered a storage area, although someone installed a shower and heat. Common charges are huge for my condo. I wonder if they can be reduced, based on the fact that the basement is only considered a storage space and not a dwelling. Thanks.
Mister Condo replies:
A.K., Town Hall records are likely the deed and declaration of the condo when it was first developed. It sounds to me like there has been significant modification to the unit and/or adjoining storage area that make the Town Hall records obsolete regarding the calculation of your common fees. My bigger question is regarding the deed(s). What does your sale agreement paperwork say? Did you buy one unit or two? There seems to be a part of the story missing and you may need to hire an attorney to get to the bottom of it but you might not like the outcome. If the units were modified and combined without proper permitting from Town Hall, you might just be stirring up a hornet’s nest whereby the Town may have a right to separate your unit into the single unit and storage unit it was originally submitted as. That spiral staircase might have to be removed and walls separating the units reinstalled. I am not saying you don’t have a right to find out, I am just warning you as to one possible outcome. If that scenario seem undesirable to you, I would continue to pay my common fees and be thankful for the size of the unit I was enjoying. All the best!