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Ask the HOA Expert - Special Assessment Notices   Ask the HOA Expert - Special Assessment Notices

Ask the HOA Expert - Special Assessment Notices

Written By: Richard Thompson
Thursday, January 9, 2014

Question: I am a real estate agent who represents condo buyers. As part of an offer, we negotiated with a seller to pay an outstanding special assessment to repair the decks. After my client closed the deal and moved in she was told the repair was only for the penthouse decks and not for her unit. Should I have gotten a copy of the special assessment notice? What can be done now?

Answer: Yes, you should have gotten a copy of the actual special assessment notice. Its not uncommon for special assessments to be used for selected areas of a building like you describe. It is a lesson in condominium ownership which is, while you may buy a unit in terrific condition, you also are buying a share of the entire condominium, some of which may be in terrible condition.

However, the bigger concern is why there was a special assessment at all. Special assessments are usually the product of poor planning. Most major repairs and replacements the HOA does are predictable. A reserve study done by a knowledgeable professional identifies all of common components that have a 2 to 30 year useful life, measures each, assesses each for condition, estimates the remaining useful life and the current cost for performing the repair or replacement of each when that useful life is used up. Further, the reserve study provides a Funding Plan which, if followed, systematically collects money usually monthly from all owners so that special assessments will never be needed.

So, does this homeowner association have such a reserve study? If so, is adequate money being collected to pay for future reserve expenses? If not, your client is in for a series of special assessments that will fall at unpredictable times. Welcome to the world of mismanaged homeowner associations. For more on this topic, see the Reserve Planning section of

Question: Is it necessary for the board to divulge the name of a homeowner making a complaint about a rule violation to the homeowner who is in violation?

Answer: No, its not necessary and need not be included unless its >

Question: Many of our annual meetings do not have the required quorum to hold the meeting. Is it allowable for someone to make a motion to suspend the rule on quorum so that the meeting can take place?

Answer: Quorum requirements are dictated by the governing documents. Only an amendment to those documents by an appropriate vote of owner can change them. This amendment cannot be done "on the fly" at a meeting to circumvent the requirement. More on this topic is available to Gold Subscribers of in the Meetings section.

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