There’s no place like home – a place to relax and unwind after a long day. That is, unless you own a condominium and have neighbors from hell! Sure, having your own home can be very rewarding, but what can you do to prevent finding yourself living like this?
You’ve just made dinner and settled in to watch TV in your new condo. You’re interrupted by the blaring of a TV from the unit below you. You try to ignore it, but after a few hours of listening to machine guns blaring from a Military Channel marathon of WWII, you’re ready to go bananas! The next night, you’re listening to the same neighbors fighting their weekly fight about money and hurling dishes at the walls. Over the next months, you’re treated to every possible sound that can come from your neighbor’s bodies. If this isn’t enough annoyance, you find out through your condo association that these same neighbors have refused to pay their last 3 months of condo fees. (Now those fights about money make sense …) Their default in fees and subsequent foreclosure of their unit forces all unit owners to pay higher fees. As the largest unit owner, you bear the highest cost. As you look to sell your unit and get away from this mess, you wonder how you could’ve prevented it …
This is a true story and is only a small glimpse into some of the issues that one homeowner faced … Here are some things that you can do BEFORE buying a condo that could help prevent a situation like this!
Remember Who’s On Your Side
- Don’t rely on real estate agents – they are not usually able to give specific information about associations. They will tell you as much as they can and any disclosures.
- Hire a lawyer! Have your lawyer review all condominium documents.
Read The Minutes
- Associations should keep copies of minutes of their meetings.
- Get copies of the minutes from past board meetings.
- Meeting minutes will help give an idea of the problems the association faces and may help identify any potential troublemakers in the building!
Meet The Neighbors
- Try to meet your potential neighbors.
- Ask the neighbors about the rules of the association including parking, pets, noise, common area use and most importantly how neighbors divide maintenance and association tasks.
Follow The Money
- Request copies of the association budget for the past 2 years.
- Ask if any special assessments or lawsuits are pending.
- Ask if any unit owners are delinquent in paying their fees.
Know Where They Stand
- Find out how much voting power and ownership your unit will have in the association.
- If one unit owner has more than 50% ownership and voting power, your association vote may be insignificant which is NOT ideal for you.