Q: I live in a 55-plus condominium community and many residents, myself included, feel that the board is doing a terrible job at maintaining our community, despite the high dues that we pay. We have spoken out at board meetings, but it seems our concerns are ignored. Can we withhold our dues, or perhaps pay them into an escrow account, to let them know we are serious?
A: No. This is a bad idea and will backfire as sure as not paying your taxes because you dislike the way our country is being run.
If you withhold your dues, you will face penalties, interest, and attorney fees in addition to the back dues. It may lead to the association foreclosing your home. I have said this before and it bears repeating: When dealing with a problem with your community association, always pay in full, even if it is the wrong amount. Then fight about the issue later. As soon you as you withhold payment, you become the "bad guy" and the problem gets worse.
You do, however, have options.
Your first option is to continue what you are doing -- get as many people as possible to go to board meetings to make your views known. While I know that this can be a frustrating process, it often works if done consistently. Your board gets so many varying complaints that they start to blend in. So the important issues need to be repeated until they are taken seriously. Also, there may be a reason why your concerns are not being addressed, so be sure to listen at the meetings, too. Perhaps a compromise can be reached.
The next option would be to wait until the next election of the board of directors and elect residents who are concerned with the same issues you are.
Finally, if the problems are severe and time sensitive, you can try to force a recall election to replace some or all of the board members mid-term.
About The Writer
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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