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About Condo Association Special Assessments

Posted on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 @ 10:23 AM

For most condo associations and condo owners, these words are almost guaranteed to bring out some anger and set off a barrage of phone calls to the board and community manager. However, there are two words that will truly raise the blood pressure of condo owners and incite irate owners to take action: "special assessment"! A condo manager needs to understand the reasons for such an condo association assessment, the different ways of handling special assessments, the relevant requirements in an association's governing documents, and be ready to work with and hopefully calm the condo owners to help them understand why the condo association assessment is needed.

In 2005, I had my first encounter with the special condo association assessment process and all that it entailed. Although I have more than 12 years of experience as a community manager, it was a learning process. By sharing my experiences, perhaps others may learn some of the pitfalls to avoid as well as some strategies to help make the process less painful to all.

The property involved in this special assessment was a complex of 44, 4-
bedroom/2-½-bath units. The condo association complex was built in 1974, so it was facing many of the problems associated with any older home. The condo association complex was dealing with tree root damage associated with older trees, damaged sidewalks and parking area, expensive tree maintenance, the need for fence repairs, painting, termite contract renewal, and, most seriously, re-roofing.

The condo association recently had to pay for several large expenses involving major interior repairs to some units that had been damaged by roof leaks. These expenditures had put their condo reserves dangerously low. (Note: This association is a PUD in Hawaii and, as such, not required to have condo reserves. They did, however, follow their property manager's suggestions and developed a condo reserve fund.) The board understood that the only way to prevent additional damage and continuing high repair bills was to re-roof. If they deferred re-roofing until condo reserves built up, more
units would experience leaks and water damage. To deal with the problem in a timely manner would mean a special condo assessment. The condo board had to make some difficult decisions regarding how to most wisely spend the condo association's existing funds and ask the membership for more money.

The condo board members had several long meetings to discuss the issues. Finally, they determined that the special condo association assessment was the only viable solution to the problem. Their first task was to determine how much they would need to 1) re-roof all units, 2) have some condo reserves for anticipated interior repairs resulting from the roof leaks and 3) treat the grounds for termites.

The property manager arranged for contractors and roofing companies to prepare estimates to submit to the condo board. With a specific dollar amount now in hand, the condo board instructed the property manager to convene a special condo association meeting to vote on the special condo associaiton assessment and a HOA loan or condo associatio loan for the amount needed. According to this condo association's documents 67% of the condo owners must approve the condo association assessment and HOA loan or condo association loan. At the meeting, approval for the HOA loan was secured.

Following this meeting, the condo board had to obtain at least 3 HOA loan proposals from HOA loan providers. At the next regular meeting, the condo board selected an HOA lona provider. The property manager was asked to submit necessary condo documents to the HOA loan and proceed with the HOA loan process. The condo board also selected the vendors for re-roofing and ground termite treatment. Once the HOA loan process was completed, the condo owners were informed of the HOA loan payment plan: owners would pay their normal monthly maintenance fee and an additional amount for the special condo association assessment.

For this particular condo association property and its situation, an HOA loan and monthly payments was the best solution for their urgent problems. Other condo associations may find other
alternatives more suitable. For a small condo association assessment amount, a lump sum payment may work, or condo owners may agree to make monthly payments over a specific time period. Typically, the condo board would provide payment options to the condo owners. Throughout this process the condo board and/or property manager may at some time find themselves dealing with angry condo owners who are already feeling the financial pinch. Paying condo fees or HOA fees may be difficult enough; adding an additional condo association assessments on top of that is bound to frustrate some condo owners. There may be accusations of mismanagement of reserve funds and poor decision-making. The condo board and property manager should work together.

To minimize confrontations or volatile reactions, condo boards should be very proactive in keeping condo owners current on condo association fiscal matters. To that end, condo boards should actively encourage attendance at annual condo association meetings or HOA meetings as well as at regular condo association meetings or HOA meetings. They should also keep condo owners informed via newsletters of the cost of major repair projects and how vendors were selected. With such efforts, condo owners would be more in touch with the condo association's fiscal issues and not be surprised should a condo association special assessment be necessary.

Community managers need to encourage condo boards and HOA boards to actively pursue "transparency" on condo association matters. Condo owners also may need to be reminded that condo boards are given the task of making decisions that sometimes may be difficult, but condo board members are also condo owners and are always seeking solutions that are in the best interests of the whole condo association.

If all three components of a condo association (condo owners, condo board members and property managers) work together, the best results will be achieved for everyone. This was my first experience with the process of a condo association special assessment and although stressful at times, it was a valuable learning experience. Hopefully this information will provide others with some insights into the process and how to make it run smoothly.

Source: Association Times

Best alternatives to a special assessment are HOA Loans



Am I correct? Special Assessments should be used only for COMMON ELEMENTS. If bylaws said that the Association is responsible for Limited Common Elements and that the costs should be considered as Common Expenses, then the costs should be paid only by the regular or monthly condo fees and not with Special Assessments. Am I correct? Please clarify me. I also understand that only common elements should be considered in the Reserve Study and not Limited Common Elements. Something must be wrong in a Condominium that says that windows and sliding doors are limited common elements and then make these two elements covered as common expense. Common expense is when repairs of the windows and slding doors are repaired and paid by money of the association. The expenses of Windows and Sliding should be covered only with the monthly condo fees but not by both monthly condo fees and Special Assessments like this particular Association. An not because they do not have enough condo fees for the repairs and replacement of the windows and sliding doors now they want to impose also a very large amount as Special Assessment. Something is wrong with this Association. Please help me to understand it better.

posted @ Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:43 PM by Connie

if special assessment is necessary to replenish reserves and monies that were usd by by construction for roof and sidinggs, etc. and reserve was depleted we want to assess each unit owner Aproxitmatel 450.00 each month for 4 months. Can we do that equally or does a one bedroom pay less than a two bedroom regular condo a two bedroom pay less than a luxury two bedroom? everyone uses the walk and the roof on our building was replaced or do the smaller condos pay less. if an assessment than the bigger apartments?? I would think that evryone should pay the same assessment. we all use the walks and the roofs . thank you fore your answer

posted @ Friday, December 03, 2010 12:34 AM by Mavin Simon

in special assessments to replenish reserves do one bedroom apartment condos pay less than a two bedrrom a 2 bedroom condo to replenish thes fees waht is the law on this type of assessment

posted @ Friday, December 03, 2010 12:40 AM by Marvin Simon

The amount you pay should be proportionate to your percent ownership of the property. For example, if you own 1% of the property, you OWE 1% of the assessment to your corporation.  
Logically, a 2 bedroom would occupy a greater percent of the total project than a 1 bedroom. Check the table of concordance in your property's declaration. 

posted @ Thursday, December 09, 2010 4:38 AM by Former Manager

When we purchased our condos in 2008, there was a special roofing assessment, which was Paid off from the seller's proceeds so we would not be burdened with this additional monthly charge. This was shown in the HUS statement. The association is threatening/proposing to now impose a special roofing assessment on everyone, saying the loan expired and they have to extend the loan. Is it legal and Can they assess a roofing assessment on you if it was paid off at closing?

posted @ Sunday, December 19, 2010 11:34 PM by Barbara Watzke

Can anyone tell me if special assessment fee will last definately or indefinately? Thanks

posted @ Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:11 PM by CC

Can membership refuse to pay a Special Assessment that is not considered an emergency, that the Board refuses to use money from the reserve, and that the payments are divided (total $450,000.00)into 5 months at $1,500.00, which we consider very difficult in this economy ? I am also concerned about lack of transparency in the Board and Management actions.

posted @ Saturday, March 12, 2011 7:09 AM by Liliana Fernandez

Iam in the process of purchasing a condo in fla.. This is a forclosured govt property, closing on 4/1. This morning 3/22 I interviewed via phone from my home state with the condo assoc. I was advised by the association of a special assessment fee which would begin on May 1 for roofing, and continue for 16 months. This is the first I have heard of any new roofing. I was not presented this property with any assessed charges other than hoa fees when I agreed to purchase this property. What are my rights???

posted @ Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:16 PM by joyce

I enjoyed reading the comment about an association having a special assessment for roof and termites. It was quite thorough except for one thing. My understanding is that all special assessment requests to owners must be noticed in writing at least two weeks before the meeting is help to vote by owners for or against the assessment. Nothing was stated as to how the owners were notified about the upcoming meeting to vote on that special assessment - a VERY important fact to remember. If the notification is not done legally, the Board cannot legally call for a vote at all.

posted @ Saturday, June 25, 2011 2:07 PM by Gary L

We tried to challenge our Association here in Florida and Attorney John Christensen from the Becker & Poliakof's firm said that the Board overrides the by-laws concerning Spec Assessment, so we had to abide by their decision.

posted @ Sunday, June 26, 2011 2:05 PM by Liliana

I am single mom with 2 toddlers, recently laidoff from 15 yr job and trying to hold onto my home/condo of 15 years. I am faced with back to back special assessments exceeding $4000 for reroofing, etc. Do I have any rights or options to validate need, delay/ or? these costs?

posted @ Saturday, July 16, 2011 1:00 PM by Rose

After voting on three options to repair or replace balconies how long does it take for a assessment to become a certified assessement 
Thank you

posted @ Thursday, September 15, 2011 1:59 PM by James Veilleux

condo 1998 presently approx assets of 92,500 our on associate has imposed 18% increase 0n our $225 per month. for projected 5-7years from 2012 for roof replacement and painting. on a 48 unit Ind owned.is this logical or a set up for fraudulent activity.

posted @ Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:38 PM by norma watson

Is it legal or illegal for a HOA to impose interest on a special assessment if they don't get a loan? It makes no sense to charge interest if there is no loan in place.

posted @ Friday, November 18, 2011 1:18 PM by CeCe

I am having issues with the special assessments that the condo association keeps applying. One year they said we could pay over the course of the years, however, they keep applying the assessments of $3K almost every year so I do not see how that can done, with the payment plan they stated. I really do not think the way they are applying it is legal as we are not informed of it until after it takes place, meaning we do not get a chance to vote on it. I do remember one year where we did vote on it which was back when I first got here (different association) and we voted against it. Since then they got a two new management companies who just keep raising the fees and the maintenance and the owners do not get to vote. I do know that one of the investment companies that own condo's are suing them because trying to get these board members out of office bc of their practices. I have been trying for years to see if this was legal because they do not inform us until after the fact. One time they had a notice up but it was hidden between the mail box and I did not see it until after the meeting was over. We used to get hand delivered notices or at least there was a notice on our building about meetings,m however, that is no more. I have other issues with them and I just do not think what they are doing is legal and cannot afford to hire an attorney as recently I became unemployed. Is there any help or advice for the weary? 
Thank you, 

posted @ Sunday, November 20, 2011 8:00 PM by Angela Henley

helpful, thanks

posted @ Tuesday, April 03, 2012 5:21 PM by John Marousek

I have a question to clarify this: is Special Assessment and Assessment for Common Expenses for Assessments mean the same? Our Board President does not think so. I do.

posted @ Thursday, May 10, 2012 3:29 PM by Gabrielle Collier

We own a Condo in Tampa FL. as an investment property. We have owned this condo for over 7 years. Last year we were charged a special assessment of over $1800. There was no information of a special meeting or any meeting to discuss the meeting. The assessment was done and we had to pay immediately or you opt to pay over 6 mths. When they did finally have a meeting we attended to discuss the assessment. The reason given was because 50% of the Condos were behind on their payment so we were all charge to bring the operation budget back. I have refused to pay. Can they have a special assessment because they cannot collect from the other owners? Of course with the economy many of the units are to be foreclosed or similar. What are my rights. I pay my monthly regular COA on time every time. The board sent me a letter with an intent to file a lien. Can I take them to court for breach of contract since the assessment has nothing to do with the maintenance of the units? What are my options. 
P.s. the condo is underwater and I have also been paying the mortgage. If I sell it will be at a loss. Can the association take it away from us? It is rented.

posted @ Monday, May 21, 2012 12:51 PM by Sandra Stephenson

please email me only..I need to know this asap. My condo is requesting all the $$ upfront . Only started 1/4 of the project. Am I obligated to pay in full when the lanai is not yet complete or will be the last one to fix. this is take well into the following year...help for advise....they are charging me interest fees since I havent made the last installment

posted @ Saturday, July 21, 2012 9:11 AM by Suznne Adams

My condo association has more then enough funds to cover $3,500 to treat the building for termites. Yet they want a assessment. Whenasked why not use some of the money we have on reserve they stated that "by law they have cannot use the money from the reserve" which is BS, because when I first bought the place 8 years ago we had the same problem and NO assessment was needed..Can the unit owners vote to use the moner from the reserve????

posted @ Thursday, August 16, 2012 2:56 AM by David

I am President of our condo assoc. Owners who lease will not submit proper leases and other board members will not take any legal action to do so my question is can I be held responsible for any ilegal activities that might occur? 
Linda Genco

posted @ Saturday, August 18, 2012 1:02 PM by Linda Genco

what is the ruling if a unit owner is selling their condo and knows there may be a possible future assessment on some of the common propery repairs? Do they need to 
to expose this in the sale??

posted @ Sunday, September 23, 2012 8:15 AM by Harriet Keyes

There is an existing special assessment on our condo when we purchased it last year. It is in the form of a loan to the association from a local bank. To find out where we now are with our balance we have to email the treasurer from our board and he replies via an email and in his own writing he tells you what the current balance is. He does not provide a ledger sheet or anything from an accountant that shows your loan assessment, nor do they make this infomation available to you on the property managers website so you can trck your individual account. QUESTION: Is the board required to provide a ledger sheet, or a legal loan document that provides to you the current status of your assessment? If someone with bad motives were in charge of these loan payments made by all the owners with no accountability on a monthly spreadsheet or official loan document, this is a perfect receipe for financial disaster. They could embezzle these funds and the owners would never know.

posted @ Thursday, October 04, 2012 9:23 AM by Mike Martin

Can special assessments be divided equally among owners if owners vote to do so?

posted @ Sunday, October 21, 2012 11:34 PM by Edward Winters

Can a condo Board pass a special assessment the same night they present the information in an open attendance Board meeting when the owners have not been provided in advance specifics of the nature and reasons for the special assessment? The owners are not allowed to speak at this meeting unless they have requested prior right to speak for 3 minutes.

posted @ Thursday, March 21, 2013 3:54 PM by JOHN BRACALE

Our yearly board meet was March 14 a new owner and partner offered to work free as mgr. and treasurer and convinced owners real sales pitch to let me the mgr. For 10yrs. Go (I am owner also) convinced some owners on speaker  
Out of country to pay big assessment they save  
My money also now got email that assessment is 3months late for everyone (retroactive)? Is this legal?  

posted @ Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:01 PM by Bobbie Heiman

I am always amazed at these conversations. Does anyone realize that the Association is just other owners just like YOU? All the bad mouthing of Associations for special assessments etc to pay for roofs etc.......well YOU bought the unit, YOU should read the declarations and bylaws, YOU should know what you bought into. If you owned a single home, would you NOT save money in the event you had to pay for home repairs? Yet over and over membership complains about fees and reserve funds. As far as I am concerned, if the Association discloses the operating and reserve budgets to the membership and is reserving funds for large items like roofs, asphalt, painting, etc, then they are DOING THEIR JOB! Everyone wants to push off the cost and complain. Well at SOME point the roof WILL need to be replaced and when you bought a condo you bought into THAT concept! The Boards of these Associations are OWNERS LIKE EVERY ONE OF YOU! Wake up folks! If you aren't willing to volunteer your time and serve the community, why do you jump to bash those who volunteer to do so, when most times they are doing so in good faith. No wonder no one wants to volunteer for these roles! As an owner I VALUE the service of the people who sit on the Board. As long as they are disclosing where my dollars go and the expenditures are appropriate, then I am happy and appreciate their service. Problem is, so many people buy condos with NO understanding of the concept of the fees and how the money is spent. Then they sit back and complain about the fees but the second something breaks, is damaged, is a problem they have their hands out to the Association. Well folks, YOU ARE THE ASSOCIATION......so remember that every insurance claim you file, every expense you demand, every item you want done, repaired, improvement etc....YOU are paying for it and it raises YOUR fees.

posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 7:32 AM by CMS

I'm an owner in an association of 20 units, in NY. The aging infrastructure has been expensive. The relatively high fees plus a current special assessment has me and some other owners stretched to our financial limits. Is it legal for the  
board to impose an additional SA for more maintenance, unavoidable, but I can't pay more. More fees will create a financially untenable situation, and the current fees make the units unattractive to buyers. Help! 
Thanks for your informed assistance! --Jerry

posted @ Saturday, September 14, 2013 10:21 PM by Gerald Carpenter

I live in south FL, where the rains are heavy in the summer. This summer they have been heavier than usual. The owner below me had water damage. Her homeowners insurance viewed her apt and gave her a claim of $3500. She has since decided all of her drywall mold and mildew problems were caused by my wall a/c unit, which she said was leaking. Her insurance agent never came to my apt to check out the situation. My a/c was not leaking, however she found someone to say it was. Our bldg. was built in 1966 and all units have wall units. My unit is not the original. I replaced it with a new one 10 years ago and have never had any trouble with it. My walls under the unit are not wet. The intact linoleum floor under the carpet is dry also. No waffling. 
My brother is my tenant. He has a journeyman's license in A/C, Refrigeration repair. I have other witnesses who have seen my floors and walls are dry. No one on our condo board, of which I am also a director will listen to me. Perhaps it is because the Condo Board president is the owner of the unit below me and her ex-husband, who is also on the board as secretary and treasurer owns a construction company, so they have quite a few contacts. Neither wants to communicate civilly with me. Neither will talk to me about their broken pipe and leaking toilet (far from where the a/c's are located). In fact, the only reason I know about that is because their plumber came up to my unit looking at my toilet and all my plumbing to see if that could be blamed on me. So the property manager, who is this couples secretary at their businesses, has decided to charge me $747 for all their drywall work and put it on the monthly budget for all to see. I need to know how to get it removed. When I tried to make sense to them at the last meeting, the unit owner just screamed and yelled insults at me (bullying, I call it) and her ex-husband wouldn't even look at my papers, he just threw them back at me. 
I have am familiar with the Florida Statutes and section718, condo laws and it says if there is inside damage to a unit, that unit owner is responsible and should contact their homeowners insurance, but if the damage is between the walls or from the outside of the unit, the condo's bldg insurance should pay the claim. I feel the condo budget should not have paid here and them come looking to me for reimbursement, especially when my unit is dry. 
They are basing their whole premise on saying my a/c was leaking because it dripped outside on the awnings below. I was told by a/c contractors that is what it is supposed to do. Only when my brother pulled the unit in to look at it, making sure nothing was wrong, did he spill the drip pan on a 3' x 2' section of carpet, which we dried immediately. However, that is what the person whom she hired to "find the leak" based his whole premise on. He told a different story to us in my apt, yet wrote up a report stating that "many quarts of water had been spilling for sometime." My homeowners insurance did not go into effect until after this incident. Her homeowners did not go into effect until July 2, 2013. She reported the claim on July 3, 2013. Coincidental? I think not. My main question is how do I get this charge taken off. Do I get a lawyer? Go to small claims court? I don't want it to cost more that they are charging. On the other hand, I don't want to admin fault when my a/c was not faulty. Plus it sets a precedent; every time she has a dry wall or leak issue she will look to blame it on me. Any ideas out there would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, MM

posted @ Friday, September 20, 2013 2:28 PM by Merrill Murray

When a special assessment is imposed for specific purpose, can any excess funds from the assessment over and above the project be used for unrelated expenses

posted @ Sunday, December 01, 2013 2:09 AM by jack Twinam

Can assessment money be used for other repairs or bills other then what the assessment called for.

posted @ Saturday, May 24, 2014 2:54 AM by Miriam Gordon

What can happen if you can not afford to pay an assessment 
can I lose my property?

posted @ Saturday, May 24, 2014 2:56 AM by Miriam Gordon

There are assessment companies that specialize in condos. They know the ins and outs of condo/owner situations. It makes sense you would want a company that has experience with condos.  
Elisa Jed | http://robideauroofing.com

posted @ Tuesday, June 03, 2014 8:16 PM by Elisa Jed

Can special assessments on our condos be a tax write-off and/or can we get an insurance discount?  
Maria B.

posted @ Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:24 AM by Maria Bernaldo

Is a Board and Management Company responsible  
to respond to a request for an itemized statement 
of exactly what and for what purpose and exactly 
how much was paid for the special assessment if requested 
in writing to a co-owner?

posted @ Thursday, August 28, 2014 6:59 PM by Marybeth

I just moved into a new development where the HOA docs did not mention a five year special assessment proposal. After closing I find a piece of mail detailing why I should vote no on this proposal for all members of the community to purchase an athletic club that is losing money to become the HOA Bank! After attending a few meetings on the matter I also find out they want send out proxies and voting on the proposal would be over 30 days. In the past as the votes came in and were put in a locked box but votes were reviewed periodically to see where the vote was. 
Is this legal? There must be standardized rules governing voting especially when they want to triple your assessment. Counting would be in-house and not in front of the community. Results would be communicated by website. This seems to be the fox guarding the hen house to me?

posted @ Friday, November 14, 2014 10:44 PM by Ron Brahin

how do submit question that i would like answered state wisconsin

posted @ Saturday, January 10, 2015 2:52 PM by frank peterson

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