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What Condo Owners and Buyers Should Know About Condo Associations

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

When purchasing or owning a condominium, understanding the role of condominium associations is critical. Condo associations operate uniquely, with rules and regulations that differ from traditional homeownership. This article will explore condo associations' operations and what condo owners and buyers should know about them. We will also discuss how property managers are hired and their role in condo associations.

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In this article, we will cover the following topics:


What are Condominium Associations?

A condominium association is a non-profit organization responsible for the management and maintenance of the common areas of a condominium complex. When a person purchases a condo, they become a condo association member. The association is responsible for making and enforcing the rules and regulations of the complex, ensuring that the property is well-maintained, and managing the association's finances.


How Do Condo Associations Operate?

Condo associations operate through a board of directors, which the members of the association elect. The board of directors is responsible for managing the association's finances, making decisions on behalf of the association, and enforcing the rules and regulations of the complex.


The board of directors will typically meet regularly to discuss issues or concerns within the complex. They will also review the association's financial statements and make decisions regarding any necessary repairs or upgrades to the property.


Understanding Condo Bylaws

Condo associations operate according to a set of bylaws that dictate how the association should operate. The association establishes bylaws and covers a range of topics, including:

  • How the association is governed

  • How meetings are conducted

  • How assessments are levied

  • How disputes are resolved

  • How the association's finances are managed

  • Rules and regulations governing the use of common areas

Condo owners and buyers need to review the bylaws of a condo association before purchasing a unit or becoming a member. This will ensure that they know the rules and regulations that govern the complex and can decide whether the association is a good fit for them.


Association Fees or Dues

One of the primary responsibilities of condo associations is to collect fees or dues from their members. These fees cover the costs of managing and maintaining the common areas of the complex, such as landscaping, pool maintenance, and trash removal.


Association fees or dues can vary based on the building's amenities and are charged based on the unit's square footage.For example, let's assume a condo association charges $0.50 per square foot for association fees.

If a condo unit is 1,000 square feet, the monthly association fee would be $500 (1,000 square feet x $0.50 per square foot). If the association charges quarterly fees instead of monthly, the cost would be $1,500 per quarter.


Here are some common things typically covered in association fees or dues:

  • Landscaping and exterior maintenance

  • Pool and spa maintenance

  • Trash removal and recycling services

  • Insurance for the common areas and building structure

  • Security services or equipment

  • Water, sewer, and gas utilities for the common areas and condo unit

  • Parking

  • Electricity for the common areas and exterior lighting

  • Reserve funds for unexpected expenses and major repairs

  • Property management fees and salaries

  • Legal fees and accounting services

  • Amenities, such as a fitness center, clubhouse, or tennis courts (if applicable)


Special Assessments

Condo associations rely on assessments from their members to cover the costs of managing and maintaining the property. However, there may be times when the association requires additional funds for unexpected expenses or significant repairs. The association may levy a special assessment on its members in these cases.


Special assessments can be a significant financial burden for condo owners, so knowing how they are calculated and used is essential. Condo owners should also regularly review the association's financial statements to ensure their assessments are used appropriately.


Condo Reserve Funds

In addition to regular assessments, many condo associations establish reserve funds to cover unexpected expenses and major repairs. These funds typically cover roof replacements, major plumbing, or emergency repairs.


A portion of each condo owner's monthly association dues or fees typically funds the reserve fund. The board of directors closely monitors the amount of money in the fund. The board may hire a financial advisor to help manage the reserve fund and ensure it is used appropriately.

Condo owners and buyers need to understand the role of reserve funds and how they are managed. By having a well-funded reserve fund, condo associations can ensure that unexpected expenses and major repairs can be covered without resorting to special assessments or loans.


Possible Restrictions of a Condo to Consider

Before purchasing a condo, reviewing the condo association's bylaws, rules, and regulations is essential to determine if any restrictions could impact your ownership. Two common restrictions to consider are restrictions on renting out the unit and pet restrictions.


Renting out the unit:

Some condo associations restrict owners' ability to rent out their units. For example, they may limit the number of units that can be rented out at any given time or require that owners obtain approval from the association before renting out their units.

Suppose you are purchasing a condo as an investment property or are planning to rent out your unit for any reason. In that case, it is essential to review the association's bylaws, rules, and regulations to determine any restrictions on renting out the unit.


Pet restrictions:

Another common restriction to consider is pet restrictions. Some condo associations have strict rules regarding pets, such as limiting the size or number of pets allowed, requiring that pets be kept on a leash, or prohibiting certain breeds of dogs.

Suppose you have a pet or are considering getting a pet. In that case, reviewing the association's bylaws, rules, and regulations is essential to determine if pet restrictions could impact your ownership.


The Role of Property Managers in Condo Associations

Many condo associations hire property managers to oversee the day-to-day operations of the complex. Property managers are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Collecting assessments from members

  • Managing the association's finances

  • Coordinating repairs and maintenance of the property

  • Enforcing the association's rules and regulations

  • Facilitating communication between the board of directors and members of the association

Condo owners and buyers need to understand the role of property managers and their responsibilities within the association. A good property manager can help ensure that the complex is well-maintained and financially stable and that the rules and regulations of the association are being enforced fairly.


Conclusion

In conclusion, condo associations are vital in managing and maintaining condominium complexes. By understanding how condo associations operate, the importance of condo bylaws, and the potential for special assessments, condo owners and buyers can make informed decisions about their investments. Additionally, recognizing property managers' roles and responsibilities can help ensure the complex is well-managed and financially stable. By staying informed and involved in the association, owners can protect their investments and enjoy the benefits of condo living.

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