By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Whether you own property in a planned community or a condominium, beware of unexpected fee increases.
Here are three recent examples:
- Homeowners in Tennessee debate how to pay to update their aging amenities;
- an aggressive board forces owners out of their Florida condos with excessively high fees;
- and a flash flood destroys basement common areas and condo units, but insurance won’t cover the full cost of repairs.
HOA proposes 76% dues increase, possible $2,000 per home special assessment
Homeowners of Cambridge Farms, Gallatin, TN, are upset about a proposed ‘major increase in dues,’ according to a recent report in the Tennessean.
The 566-home planned community boasts 27-acres of common grounds, including a playground, basketball court, tennis court, several gazebos and a pond.
HOA Board President, Cathy Bowersox, says current dues of $17.09 per month aren’t high enough to make repairs in the subdivision, which was built in the 1990s. The board was planning to propose an monthly increase of $12.91 at a special meeting in March.
Even though a large crowd of 244 members showed up for that meeting, it wasn’t enough to meet quorum requirements of two-thirds of all parcel owners.
The vote was postponed, but the issue will be reconsidered at a meeting in June.
If a dues increase isn’t approved, the HOA could specially assess properties at $2,000 each. That’s likely to sting, especially for older homeowners living on limited retirement income.
Contact information for Cambridge Farms lists Associa as the management company.
Cambridge Farms HOA meeting draws hundreds, ‘major dues increase’ to be discussed in June
Kelly Fisher, Nashville Tennessean Published 5:03 p.m. CT March 19, 2019
A single family takes over board and forces owners to sell by increasing condo fees 400%
Owners at Chateau by the Sea, a 1970s condo building in Cocoa Beach, FL, are facing some serious condo fee increases — 400% within 2 years.
According to WFTV-9, a single Canadian family owns a majority of the 42 units at the beach side condominium, and controls the board of directors. That board recently voted to increase monthly condo fees from $400 to $2,000.
That’s a huge chunk of change. Many of the units are vacation properties, but an owner would have to rent the unit most nights of the month just to pay the condo fees. For a full-time or seasonal resident, $2,000 per month fees are outrageously unaffordable.
Drew Goff, association President, says the increase is necessary to pay for needed repairs, and to make up for severely underfunded reserves.
But some condo owners interviewed by WFTV say that, in the past, the condo association funded repairs as needed with special assessments. They call the outrageous assessment increases a hostile takeover of their condo association.
WFTV Consumer investigator, Todd Ulrich, explains that Florida statutes limit annual assessment increases to 115 percent of the previous year’s assessments. However, those limitations don’t apply to reserve fund increases. And laws that protect condo owners from steep reserve fund increases don’t apply to older governing documents, like those at Chateau by the Sea, which were written prior to the mid-1990s.
No wonder 12 out of 42 unit owners sold their units in the past year. Who can afford $24,000 a year in condo fees?
Action 9 investigates runaway condo fees
Updated: Apr 11, 2019 – 8:03 PM (WFTV)
Condo owners pay thousands to repair and rebuild basement living areas after September 2018 flood
Last September in Briedgeport, CT, 5-7 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, severely flooding the basement of Cartright Towers condominiums. Eight months later, condo owners voted on a special assessment of $235,000, to pay for cleanup and repairs that weren’t covered by insurance.
FEMA will not pay for any of the damages, because the 2018 rain event was not declared an official emergency.
The flood destroyed common areas in the basement, including the laundry room, the media room/lounge area and the elevator. However it also ruined several condo units in the lower level.
Connecticut Statute 47-255 governs insurance requirements for common interest communities. It requires condominium associations to insure individual units and improvements, unless otherwise limited by the Declaration of condominium.
The law also requires repairs to be made, unless 80% of unit owners vote not to rebuild:
(h) (1) Any portion of the common interest community for which insurance is required under this section which is damaged or destroyed shall be repaired or replaced promptly by the association unless (A) the common interest community is terminated, in which case section 47-237 applies, (B) repair or replacement would be illegal under any state or local statute or ordinance governing health or safety, or (C) eighty per cent of the unit owners, including every owner of a unit or assigned limited common element that will not be rebuilt, vote not to rebuild. The cost of repair or replacement in excess of insurance proceeds and reserves, regardless of whether such excess is the result of the application of a deductible under insurance coverage, is a common expense.
Homeowners reportedly spent months arguing over who should pay for repairs in the basement. Some owners of units on upper floors were less enthusiastic about rebuilding units in the basement.
According to CT Post, 42 owners voted for the assessment, and 16 voted against against it. State law only requires a simple majority vote, so the assessment is now official. Every unit owner is required to pay his or her proportional share, like it or not.
Cartright Towers is a 4-story apartment style condominium structure built circa 1971. ♦
Bridgeport condo residents vote to pay flooding damage repairs
By Tara O’Neill Updated 8:48 pm EDT, Thursday, May 9, 2019