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Real Estate Matters: New condo owner says special assessment was not disclosed at closing

Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, Tribune Content Agency on

Q: I purchased my condo in July 2021. Since then, the condo board put through a special assessment for $120 per month for the next 84 months to pay for “unsafe balcony” repairs. This was not disclosed at the time of my closing.

I’ve made two payments so far, and no work has begun, nor has there been any update furnished by the board. My attorney said there wasn’t enough money involved for him to pursue it. Also, a neighbor across the hall is paying a special assessment “in case the roof needs to be repaired.” My seller assumed that assessment of $5,000 at my closing.

We currently have no board president; [the previous one] resigned due to threats made to her. And another board trustee also resigned. There are two buildings with 12 units in each, and the monthly HOA fee is $280.

Is this a mess, or what? I’d appreciate your opinion. Thank you.

A: We certainly can’t say whether it’s a mess or not. We’re not living there. But we can share our perspective on what might be happening.

What we know from your question is that your association is going through with repairs to the building. On the positive side, it’s good that a building intends to maintain and keep their building in good shape. We’ve seen with the Surfside condominium collapse what can happen if a property does not maintain itself. On the other hand, owners get cranky about ongoing special assessments that never end.

 

Before you purchased the home, you knew the building was in the middle of repairing the roof. We know you knew because the seller put up the cash to cover their share of the cost. So, why didn’t the special assessment for the balcony repairs come up? The question for you is whether you should have known or found out about the balcony repairs when doing your due diligence.

We can’t know for sure what the particular facts are of your situation. It’s possible that the association had been talking about the balcony repairs for some time. But it’s also possible that fixing the balconies just rose to the top of the list as other items were completed.

In prior columns, we’ve mentioned that buyers looking to purchase a condominium unit should do several things before committing to the purchase. One important thing to do is to have your home inspector take a look around at the common elements of the building: the roof, exterior walls, common plumbing, heating and air conditioning units, hallways and stairways, basements and other areas.

Many inspectors might only inspect the individual unit, but many others will look over other parts of smaller association buildings to give the buyer a sense of the building’s condition.

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