Many homeowners purchase units in a condominium association thinking it will be maintenance free living. If you’re considering buying a condo, please don’t sign on the dotted line and assume everything outside your four walls will be handled.
As a homeowner, you must do your part to be well-informed about how your association operates and what you can expect as a homeowner. Below are a few simple tips to consider if you think a condo is for you:
Do Your Homework
Thoroughly read and understand the governing documents and rules and regulations for your association. Familiarize yourself with any applicable state laws and statutes. Review the annual budget and monthly financial statements. Community Associations Institute is a national organization that also offers many valuable homeowner education programs to help you make a sound decision.Participate
A well informed homeowner is the best kind. Attend board meetings so you are aware of what the Board of Directors are discussing, how they are operating, and how they are managing the association’s funds. Be sure to participate in the annual meeting and board election. The Board of Directors is comprised of homeowners just like you. They are elected by the membership as the decision making body for the association and must uphold and act in accordance with the governing documents. Offer your support by attending meetings and possibly volunteering for available committees or board vacancies.
If you see some papers and litter on the ground, be a good neighbor and pick up if you can, do not assume the landscaper will. If you see a routine maintenance item in need of attention, report it to management. Do not assume that someone else will take care of it automatically.
Don’t assume that you are beautifying the property by planting flowers in a common area, installing decorations at the entryway or placing lawn ornaments in your planting beds. Many associations have strict architectural and landscaping improvement guidelines. Review the rules and regulations and submit the applicable paperwork to the Board of Directors. Always ask before you act.
If you receive a violation notice, comply! Don’t believe you are being singled out. Other owners in violation of rules have probably received notices also, but they choose not to comply. Associations and some states have specific procedures for rule violations that must be strictly adhered to and it may be a lengthy process. Don’t assume that the association is not enforcing the rules.
Withholding assessment payments will not expedite service or maintenance. The association is essentially a business operating on an annual budget funded by the homeowners’ assessments. Not paying assessments will only serve to inhibit the progress you may wish to see. The annual budget funds general maintenance, improvement projects and the day-to-day operation of the association’s business. Additionally, non-payment of assessments forces other homeowners to carry the burden and may cause the association to engage in collection activities which result in increased administrative and legal costs.
Lisa Evans, CMCA® AMS® PCAM®, Community Association Manager