Goodspeed: Read your condo association agreement


QUESTION: I live on the first floor of a five-unit condominium building. The building has an elevator, but since I live on the first floor, I never use it. Our condo fees are already quite high because of this elevator and all the maintenance needed to keep it going.

Last month, the owners were notified that we are going to have to have a special assessment to replace the elevator next year. Since I never use the elevator do I have to pay this assessment?

ANSWER: It depends on what your condominium documents say. But in general, every homeowner in an association must pay his/her share of the common expenses, including special assessments.

I understand your query. In fact, I hear it quite often – re: I don’t use the tennis court, why should I have to pay to maintain it? I don’t use the swimming pool, why should I have to pay to maintain it? Or, I don’t use the elevator, so why should I have to pay to maintain it?

When you live in a homeowner’s association with commonly owned and shared elements, the operative word is “common.” You get some benefits from these common elements that other owners do not, and vice versa.

But no matter how many benefits you may or may not receive from these common elements, you still have to participate in the association just as every other homeowner, and this means paying your common area assessments.

Having said that - it is true that some association documents and bylaws allow assessments for common elements to be levied only against individual units that are directly impacted. As with most questions about condominiums, the answer lies in your association documents and bylaws.

Review your condo docs to see if your board has this authority. If not, then you must pay the assessment to pay for the new elevator like everyone else.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: