How Often Should the Condo Association Change Auditors and Attorney?

C.T. from Hartford County writes:AskMisterCondo

Dear Mister Condo,

Thank you for being there to answer questions. What a grand resource!!!!

–How often should one change auditors for a large condo with a budget [excluding reserves] of over 3.5 M?

–Is there a standard/recommended amount of time to have the same auditor year after year?

–Also, the same question re a condo’s lawyer?

Mister Condo replies:

C.T., thank you for the kind words. Let me see if I can repay you with some kind advice.

Generally speaking, auditors are outside third parties that have no vested interest in the association, meaning they have an assignment of reviewing “the books” for the association and giving an opinion as to whether or not everything is in order. Unless there has been a problem of some sort with the auditor’s performance, I am not certain there is any need to change auditors. Keep in mind that your auditor also works for other associations and businesses. If there are no complaints against the auditor from any of these sources, I think I would keep the auditor. Of course, it is a two way street and if the auditor is showing signs that he or she is no longer interested in auditing your association’s records, then it is most definitely time for a new auditor. You need sharp eyes and keen business acumen to do a good job of auditing association records, especially the dollar volume of an association as large as yours.

Condominium lawyers are another story, in my opinion. Many condominium associations suffer from “institutional memory loss” as Boards change leadership and members over the years. Many times, the condo lawyer is one of the few constants for the association, which can be quite useful so the same mistakes are not made again and again by new Board members. That being said, if the association feels their attorney isn’t best serving it, there is no shortage of qualified community association attorneys that could be considered. However, to simply change attorney for the sake of changing attorneys makes no sense to me at all. In fact, it might even create duplicate work for the association if a new attorney were asked to help out with a legal matter a previous attorney had already handled for the association.

The bottom line is that these professionals are external to the association and have no vested interest as unit owners within the association might. If they are performing to the expectations of the association, I see no reason to change them simply for the sake of change. Good luck!

Originally posted at AskMisterCondo.com

Condo Unit Owner Unhappy with Bulk Cable Provider

Re post from Ask Mister Condo:

N.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,AskMisterCondo

A condo owner does not like our cable provider and wants to either stop paying for the cable monthly or have us switch to another (faster internet speed) provider – who does notoffer a bulk rate. The Board likes our current provider and is paying a bulk cable rate. How do we resolve this?

Mister Condo replies:

N.H., for the most part the Board is free to choose whichever service providers they wish for their buildings. The individual unit owner who stops paying his cable bills will very likely have his service terminated and may also face additional penalties and/or late fees if he doesn’t cancel through the proper channels. Individual unit owners who find themselves at odds over their condo association’s choice for bulk providers are often left with few other options if the utility does not have access to the common areas of the association, which the Board controls. Cellular service may be available but is generally a good bit more expensive than cable for television and Internet purposes. You may wish to consult with an attorney to see if your local laws supersede your association’s governance documents but, for the most part, the Board is the sole deciding authority on which services provider is used.

The best solution would be to work with the Board to see if there are alternatives in the association’s best interest. Faster Internet speeds, lower rates, better programming options are all reasons to change. However, if the Board is perfectly pleased with the current provider, the request is likely to fall on deaf ears. However, if enough unit owners demand change, the Board may find itself defending its position and individual Board members may find their positions challenged by new volunteers looking to serve on the Board just to bring about change in the bulk rate cable supplier.

 

Found at Ask Mister Condo

Statute of Limitations on Past Due Common Fees?

Re post from Ask Mr. Condo 

E.H. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is the common charges fee assessed against the Unit or the Owner of the Unit? What is the Statue of Limitations for past due fees?

Mister Condo replies:

E.H., for the most part, common fees and special assessments are placed upon the owner of record of the unit at the time the fees are assessed. There may be exceptions during the developer controlled phase of a new development but, in most instances, fees are assessed to the unit owner of record and I am not aware of any statute of limitations for past due fees, provided the unit owner was served proper notice under the rules of the association. Association will generally put unit owners with severe delinquencies into the hands of a collections specialist or an attorney. In the most severe cases, the association can even bring a foreclosure action against a unit owner with past due fees. Laws vary by state but in Connecticut the association can recover as much as 9 months of delinquent fees and reasonable attorney costs as part of a standard dues recovery effort. In cases which also involve foreclosure by a bank for mortgage default, that amount can be even greater provided the association file the proper paperwork with the courts during the foreclosure proceedings.

More information and links to the relevant laws can be found at the CAI Connecticut Legislative Action Committee page at http://www.caict.org/?page=Legislative. All the best!

Originally posted at AskMrCondo.com