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Subject: HUGE assessment
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05/19/2006 8:36 AM  
I live in a condo in California and less than 6 months ago they special assessed $15K for repairs secondary to mold and water intrusion on some units. (90 units x 15K = $1.35k) NOW they want to special assess another $80K for repairs to roofs, balconies, windows (owner pays for windows they pay for install), and chimneys. They want to do it all at once since they have not done regular maintenance over the past years. They state that if the owners don't vote it in, they will go to court and push it through as an "emergency."
There are many retirees in the community on fixed incomes who are already making payments on the first assessment and they are threatening to accelerate the payments to a full payment of the balance.
I don't see that this board has made good use of the dues over the past 4 years I've lived there. They don't know the words budget and planing, therefore I don't trust them with such a large sum of money. The fellow owners are so complacent and won't pull together to hold anyone accountable.

I need advice on what to do about this upcoming "blackmail" assessment. Can I stop it somehow? Would a real estate attorney be able to help? They cost me a sale and have devalued the condos now. I want to sell and get as far away as I can, but now they have made it virtually impossible. I may have to go into bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Please HELP with advice! The vote is June 17th.
Thank you.


05/19/2006 10:38 AM  
Can the association apply for a bank loan and increase future assessments to make the payments on the loan? Our covenants only allow for a special assessment of $300 at one time to each owner. A bank loan may be the way to go and it has gotten easier for an association to acquire loans.

It sounds as though a reserve has not been built, and I would guess that maybe the assessments were set too low or possibly not increased as time went on in anticipation of upcoming major expenses. This is something we are trying to get across to homeowners so that we can amend our covenants for an initiation fee. They don't realize that as the community ages, major repairs are going to ocurr. When I joined the board four years ago, we didn't have a reserve study or reserve fund (in fact, our MC at the time told us we didn't need one), and the annual assessment had never been raised. Being the first board to implement an increase was not a pleasant experience but it needed to be done.

Additionally, if this is something that was unforseen, you cannot blame the board members for poor planning and bad spending. Maybe prior members didn't take care of a problem as soon as it was reported that would have been less expensive to repair or maybe the homeowners didn't report problems. If the repairs are not made, then your property value will go down and it will be even more expensive to repair.
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