The myth of affordable, low maintenance, carefree condo living

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Sales agents, developers, and management industry trade groups have been marketing condominiums as affordable housing, designed for residents who don’t have the time or the inclination to worry about many home maintenance tasks.

But condo buyers, and even tenants need to recognize that condo living is not always as carefree as advertised.

Today’s post cites several examples of condominiums that are definitely not well-managed or maintained, and, therefore, neither low maintenance nor carefree for owners or residents of individual units. And the added costs of deferred maintenance and poor security also make these condos less affordable.


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Legal fight remains over troubled property after arrest is made in man’s murder


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man is behind bars, accused of killing a homeless man inside a vacant property on the city’s northeast side.

The killing took place near 42nd and Post Road at a property that has become a hot spot for violence this year.

A full week after 35-year-old Anthony Eldridge was murdered inside the vacant property, the door to the crime scene is still wide open.

According to court records, Ernest White admitted he severely beat Eldridge and a friend shot him because White was angry that Eldridge allegedly fondled an underage relative of White’s six years ago.

Back in January, two other homicides also took place in the same complex which is known as Towne and Terrace.

Many of the individually owned townhomes are vacant or in disrepair. Since 2013, the city and the homeowners association have been locked in a legal fight because the city owns 95 of the 258 units and their plans for demolition are being stopped by a court order.

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City of Indianapolis owns 70 abandoned units at Towne & Terrace complex

Stephanie Wade
10:18 PM, Jun 21, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — The owners of Towne & Terrace townhomes on Indianapolis’ far east side say the city of Indianapolis is responsible for many of the vacant and neglected homes in the complex.

The city owns 70 out of the 170 units.

Bobbie Williams says she’s afraid to let her grandchildren outside.

“You don’t even let your grandkids leave? Not really. Unless they’re getting in a car and we’re leaving,” Williams said.

There have been three homicides at the complex this year.

In 2014, the city was awarded federal grant funds specifically for the demolition of Towne & Terrace properties, but the city says the homeowners association has refused to allow the city to demolish the buildings.

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In  this case, owners in the condo association — many of them landlords who lease to low-income tenants — are getting in the way of cleaning up the dilapidated complex. A court battle has dragged on for the past five years. 

A statement from the City alleges that the condo association excludes City officials from its board and membership meetings, refuses to allow the City to maintain the common areas, and has taken court action to stop the City from demolishing condemned units. 

In the meantime, abandoned units attract criminal activity and violence. 


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Neighbors: Gun-toting squatters are terrorizing Las Vegas condo community

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) – It’s supposed to be a peaceful and quiet condo complex, but some neighbors suspect gun-toting squatters have taken over one of the units and are terrorizing those living nearby.

According to some neighbors living at the Highgate condo complex near Tenaya Way and Summerlin Parkway, the trouble began about six months ago.

“It used to be such a nice neighborhood. Nothing but older, respectful people and very quiet,” said resident Blake Watson.

“Now it’s nothing but gunshots and drug dealers and just within months,” added Watson.

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Residents often expect a gated community to be safer than an ungated community. But, in reality, the gates that are supposed to keep criminals out also prevent routine police patrols meant to prevent crime in the first place. That’s why sometimes criminals choose to set up their illegal operations out of an abandoned condo in a gated complex. 

This particular gated community’s outwardly attractive appearance is deceptive. The condo association owns the unit where squatters have taken up residence, and the management agent claims she has no responsibility for conduct of residents in association-owned property. 

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Condo controversy by new owners over old hail damage cost

Mike McKnight
Posted: Tue 7:35 PM, Jun 05, 2018

A shock for owners in a northwest Omaha condominium complex: They’re being assessed an unexpected fee for new roofs. Some say it’s unfair.

It’s not a welcome letter Linda Barton found on her door on move-in day three months ago. She said, “I was really shocked and I hoped it didn’t apply to me since I was just moving in.”

But all residents of Belle Meade Condos have been assessed $1,630 mainly to pay the $121,000 deductible for roof replacement. Barton said, “I didn’t know about it. Nothing was disclosed on the loan.”

The notice from PJ Morgan Management on behalf of the homeowner’s board said to ease the burden on condo owners. The special assessment will be $30 a month for five years. However, some of the condo owners are complaining due to a letter from an insurance company. It says there was a damage claim for hail filed in 2014 that never got fixed.

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Here’s a Buyer Beware message: Owners must pay for deferred maintenance and any liability that becomes known after they take title to the property, regardless of when the damage occurred.

In this case, each unit is being assessed $1,630 to cover the cost of an insurance deductible in a 2014 claim for roof repairs. Even though the hail storm damage occurred four years ago, all existing unit owners must pay, including those that did not own property in 2014. Owners who don’t pay in full will pay $30 per month over 5 years, for a total of $1,800 with interest. 

Not mentioned in the report: what happened to the money disbursed by the insurance company, that was supposed to be used to repair the roof?

The condo manager interviewed by WOWT suggests that new owners caught by surprise should have paid for a pre-sales inspection and could have reviewed financial records of the association prior to purchase. But that’s easier said than done with a condominium property. Home inspectors generally limit their review to the interior of a condo unit, because exterior portions are common property.

And condo and homeowers’ associations rarely share complete and candid financial records with non-owners, including home buyers. In this case, since a newly elected condo board did not know about the 2014 insurance claim until recently, how would a buyer be made aware of it?

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Highland Park issues cautions in wake of Fort Sheridan porch collapse

Karen Berkowitz, Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune

May 29, 2018   4:35 PM

The city of Highland Park has advised a Fort Sheridan homeowners’ association to have a structural engineer assess 10 of the rear porches on a 12-unit condominium building where a porch collapsed Saturday, seriously injuring a couple and their minor daughter.

In the meantime, residents of 10 of the units have been advised not to use their porches until the inspection is performed and the porches are determined to be safe, City Manager Ghida Neukirch said Tuesday.

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These balconies are approaching 20 years old, and they exhibit visible wood rot, according to reports. 

Condo owners expect their association to maintain exterior components of their multifamily building. Balconies are often classified as limited common elements, meaning that individual unit owners have exclusive use of the structure attached to their condo unit, as well as some routine maintenance such as keeping the balcony free of debris and clutter. 

Usually the condo association is responsible for repairing balconies and decks, even if the association ultimately assesses each unit owner for repairs. The common problem is, no one regularly inspects decks and balconies, leading to personal injury or even fatalities in some cases. 

The association is managed by Lieberman Management (, with units selling for more than $400,000, and condo association assessments of more than $900 per month.

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