Sunday, September 13, 2009

Should I sue my condo association?

I received this question via email:

Hi Keith, I have a question regarding a condo association. We have recently experienced a building fire and are now all displaced. The condo association is requiring all owners to continue to pay monthly assessments. Is this legal? We have been told that we will not be able to live in the building for one year. The building has 80 plus units, imagine all of that money not being used! Help! Do we have any grounds to sue for these assessments back? Any input will be greatly appreciated. I have no where to turn. Also, any suggestions on how we, the homeowners, can get the ball moving? It has been 3 months since the fire and no work has been started. We are all worried that our individual insurance will run out before the building is finished, and then what? By the way, our condo association is not pleased that we are contemplating the possibility of litigation.

Thank you for your assistance

Since I'm not a lawyer and I'm assuming the reader (who didn't want her name used) isn't either, my first and best piece of advice is that she needs to consult an attorney before proceeding with anything. Litigation may or may not be a good option, but qualified legal advice is certainly a great option.

One thing to remember is that as an owner, you are a member of the condo association and technically part of your building's management. In other words, if you brought suit against the association, you'd in part be suing yourself.

Otherwise, I wouldn't necessarily assume that your condo fees aren't being used. The association must continue to operate after a catastrophe like a fire. Expenses like filing insurance claims, getting estimates and yes, legal fees, have to be incurred whether you're living in the building or not. Look into what kind of cash reserves your association has and what kind of insurance policy as well. That will be important.

Good luck.


L. Marie Joseph said...

"The condo association is requiring all owners to continue to pay monthly assessments. Is this legal?"

It's legal, it's just nat fair. They should at least give condo owners a two month break

Keith T. Reed said...

Devil's advocate, L. Marie: What if that two-month reprieve from fees starves the association from the operating capital it needs to take care of the damage to the building in a timely manner?

L. Marie Joseph said...

HOA are known to always be broke. When times are good they are barely making it. I honestly see no need for them homeowners can be responsible for doing all the thing a HOA does

Keith T. Reed said...

I agree, many HOAs do have financial problems and their owners don't have much to show for it. Those that operate effectively can acutally big help the the homeowner.

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