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A friend asks: Are condo associations the spawn of Satan?

1/5/2015 | Real Estate Blog

We’ll return to our discussion of eminent domain later this week. This issue came up, though, and we promised a friend we would post about it ASAP. Our friend has had a bad week. Aside from being behind on mailing Christmas presents to friends and family — yes, even in January — she had a particularly contentious meeting with her condominium association.

She has been president of the association for a couple of years now and has hosted these meetings for longer than that. She has lived in the building — built in the ’20s, so full of charm and always in need of repair — for more than 20 years, and she tells us her patience has grown very thin in that time.

As with every condo association, some owners are more involved than others, and some owners listen more carefully than others. And, she says, some owners remember their manners. “It’s a meeting; we have things to decide,” she complained in a long email. “It’s not a cocktail party. You can’t get anything done if everyone is talking at once.” If it had been a cocktail party, she added bitterly, she certainly wouldn’t have invited her neighbors.

The issue at hand was the budget and how the association was going to pay for a major repair to the charming but decaying detached garage. There are 14 apartments but just seven garage stalls. There is an annual lottery to determine which owner gets a stall (and pays for the privilege), but the building is in one of those old Philadelphia urban neighborhoods, close to transit and shopping, so not everyone has or needs a car.

The garage, however, is a significant asset to the association. Covered parking is rare in her area, and buyers will pay more for a unit even if the parking stall is not guaranteed. Making sure the garage did not collapse, then, was in the best interests of the association. The association board set about replacing the roof.

So much more easily said than done. We’ll explain more in our next post — and we will go through some important laws regarding homeowners associations that our friend should have been keeping in mind throughout the project.

Source: 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. ยง 3302, Powers of unit owners’ association, via WestlawNext