Condo Owners Face Uncertainty After Fire Destroys their Home


By Deborah Goonan

Now here’s a report from Warwick, Rhode Island, about a couple who lost their condo building to fire in March 2015. The place was a total loss, and although their insurance company has been paying their rent at a different location for months, James Simmons and Susan Gaipo face numerous obstacles ahead. First, there’s the delayed property tax abatement. Then there’s the fact that Westgage Condominium HOA has not even pulled a construction permit to begin rebuilding. Of course, they still have to keep paying condo assessments, even though they probably won’t have a condo to live in for many months to come.

Westgate condo owners face taxes on units that aren’t there,105010?category_id=4&content_class=1&town_id=1&sub_type=stories

A couple of things struck a nerve in this report: the attempts to melt ice dams with heaters, the poor water pressure on the fire hydrant, the fact that the fire department didn’t determine the cause of the blaze. Wow. Makes you wonder if these owners are getting their money’s worth from condo assessments and property taxes.

But I had to shake my head when I read the statement about all condo owners benefiting from the disaster with a  $25 reduction in assessments.

Apparently, Simmons does not understand that ALL owners will pay to rebuild the exterior structure of a new condo building. All condo owners pay their share for Association insurance. There will be an insurance deductible. There may be other uncovered expenses, too. And insurance rates will no doubt increase substantially for the Association upon renewal.

That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to homeowners’ and condominium associations. When you buy in, you agree to shared ownership of common areas and common elements. So you’ll help pay for any disaster that hits your Association, even if your unit is unaffected.

Lesson learned. I wish all Westgate owners a speedy resolution to their predicament.

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