J.S. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The condo fails to make repairs. Can I put condo fees in escrow until repairs are made? I warned them in writing I would do this beginning January 1st. Can they charge late fees or will I lose even if I make payments monthly in the escrow acct?
Mister Condo replies:
J.S., I am sorry that your condo association isn’t living up to your expectations and making timely repairs to your unit. Regardless of how you feel about them treating you poorly and not handling your repairs, withholding your common fee payments is a big mistake. Yes, they can (and will) charge you late fees. They can also turn your delinquency over to an association attorney who will very likely begin foreclosure proceedings against you if you don’t pay up. At the very least, you may rack up additional collection fees. This is not a good plan.
Condominium associations are run by volunteer members of the community who have been elected to conduct the business of the association. If you are unhappy with the performance of these volunteers, your best line of action is to elect new volunteers who will better serve the community. There are many reasons your repairs may not be handled in as timely a fashion as you would like. There may be cash flow or cash shortages that the Board is dealing with. There may be proceeds from an insurance settlement that have yet to materialize. You can and should ask for an explanation as to why your repairs are not being handled quicker but the association s truly under very little obligation to make the repairs on your time schedule.
That being said, you do have the right to hire and attorney and/or bring suit against the association for not taking care of your repairs. An attorney is your best bet for advice on whether or not you will win in such a suit. Sometimes, the threat of the lawsuit is enough to get the Board to take action. Of course, the Board will likely use its own attorney to combat the suit and a lawsuit could further delay your repairs. My advice is for you to be patient, consult with an attorney for your own peace of mind, and work with the Board to get your repairs handled. Withholding your common fees is a bad strategy that will not get your repairs handled any quicker but will cost you a good deal of money and may even delay the Board from taking action to handle your repairs. All the best!