Probably they can assess you if the foundations are common elements and not part of the unit. Same result if roof leaks and is above your unit but not others-generally all unit owners would pay for that as well.
At this point you say it is only a discussion by the board.
RYDF... Read Your Documents First.
Find the definitions of the Common Elements. You are a co-owner off ALL the common elements. Every unit member of a condominium association shares liability for the maintenance and repair of the common elements. Structural elements of buildings including foundations, roofs and perhaps load bearing walls are often Common Elements.
So as Stephen Marcus states, they can probably assess you. The first way they can fund these issues is using the Reserve funds of the association. There often is language in the documents limiting how much an association can spend in a certain time frame without having a special meeting and vote to approve the expenditure. Depending on your state, there may be certain steps they are required to take before proceeding on a major capital improvement or repair. And what about any insurance coverage?
So you can go back to your documents and see what powers the board has to make any special assessment. See if there is a requirement for a special meeting and vote of the general unit owners.
On you part, you can educate yourself in these matters, and advise the board to follow them. If they do not follow them, then you would have grounds for not paying.
Other ways a board can assess you for major repairs:
1) Within limits set in your CC&Rs, Master Deed, By-Laws and state law, your association can increase your regular assessment in order to fund a long term need such as a this costly repair. At this point you need to review the Reserve Funds, Reserve Fund plans of your association. There may be a variety of ways to finance the repairs over a long term, to ease the impact of a one - time special assessment. Your control over these considerations is the power of the unit votes in education, communication and the power to vote the board in and out.
In general, property owners in a HOA situation are like the Musketeers, "All for one and one for all."
As long as an owner did nothing to damage the foundation, the responsibility for foundation repair rests with the Condo HOA. Realize that in a patio home environment, where you have two or four properties on one foundation, or a town home environment, where properties have multiple floors and they are joined together by common walls, judging who pays for foundation repair is dependent, as John Mastro says, on laws and the documents of your association.
You state, "There are four units in my condo association that have foundation issues." That does not paint a clear picture for any of us regarding what your "unit" is. Please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condominium and try to describe your development. More relevant comments would be entered with this clarification.
In a Condominium Association, the owner generally only owns the air they breathe. Likewise, they own a percentage interest in the common area. For example, in a townhome community the owner generally owns the land below and they sky above. Anything outside of the structural footprint is considered Common Area.
One way to tell is to look at a plat map. If each of the individual units appear as platted units, then it is generally a townhome. If it shows one large building and is not separated by units, it is generally a condominium. As such, "ALL" Condominium Homeowners own an interest in "ALL" of the buildings and common areas, and not just the one they reside in.
Thus, in a Condominium Association that has townhome style buildings and units, just because open space appears next to your unit does not mean that it is "Your Yard" and that you do as you please. Similarly, if there is damage to the units, "ALL" Condominium Owners hare an interest in the cost of repairs.
If there are not reserves, one way to fix the problems is to conduct a Special Assessment with "ALL" unit owners paying a percentage share. For example, if there are 100 units in the association, each person would pay 1/100th of the total costs. This then could be spread out into some form of payment plans etc.
A point of clarification on Team Strategy's comment, "One way to tell is to look at a plat map. If each of the individual units appear as platted units, then it is generally a townhome. If it shows one large building and is not separated by units, it is generally a condominium. As such, "ALL" Condominium Homeowners own an interest in "ALL" of the buildings and common areas, and not just the one they reside in."
If each unit appears as a platted unit on a plat map and is a townhome, does the comment above change in any way?
Also, all assessments at the townhouse community in which I live are parsed out according to the percent of square footage where exterior units which are larger pay more, and interior units which are smaller pay less. Since I am in an end-unit, I like the idea of an equal percentage applied. Are there any expenditures taken on by the HOA that should follow the equal percentage guideline you outline?
The legal framework of condominiums is very different from homes in a home owners association. The major difference is that clearly defined in the documents. Structures of units platted separately are not generally owned in common. I am not familiar with HOAs but I believe they would only pay dues to maintained common amenities.
Google condominium versus home owners associations.
Thanks for all the very informative responses.
I live in a community with multiple buildings. These are classified as condos because there are different owners in the upper and lower levels. The units that need work are in a separate building from mine. So I would not benefit from any of the work done.
I did check the documents and it says: "Any Assessment or portion thereof benefitting fewer than all of the Units may be assessed exclusively against the Unit or Units benefitted, equally, based upon actual cost or in proportion to undivided interests."
The key word here though is "may." That means it may or it may not rather than "must." But I did find out that a vote would be required for this type of assessment. So at least I will have a say in the matter to a point.
@ Becca...., if that language is the case, I am leaning to the idea that only the owners in the individual units with foundation problems can be liable for the repairs.
There is a need to see the entire set of documents, and a need for knowledge about how this situation is handled by the lawyers and the courts. Sounds like you are actually in a HOA or home owners situation, where each building is like a little condo.
Becca - Based on your description, there are two owners per unit, one per level. As someone eluded to earlier, if the property description for the upper unit does not include the access path to that unit, then they could be considered condos.
You further stated that there were foundation issues. Foundation issues are typically a result of the builder and/or developer doing things on the cheap either in relation to the foundation (design, materials, and so on) or the ground (improper compacting, soil density, drainage, and so on). What this means is that all the units may have the same issue, assuming it was the same builder/developer.
While I would agree that the repair expense should rest on the owners impacted, I would be concerned about all the remaining units. The HOA needs to engage an engineering firm to evaluate all the units.
Good point Ron - NC
One should always look ahead and think, what if it happened to me, how would I be looking at this?
Sam - Fl.
That's the thing with foundation problems, they are expensive. And fixing it can be tricky as well. I'm glad I never had to pay for it. http://www.abalonconstruction.com/en/underpinning_and_teleposts.html