HOA's: All for One and One for All?

The Home Owners Association usually bears responsibility for repairing condo building exteriors, but it doesn't always cover general maintenance. Read on to better understand your HOA's disclosures.

When you buy a condo or co-op, the HOA usually bears responsibility for maintaining and repairing the buildings' exteriors. However, if your HOA has a fairly small reserve account, and the roof(s) need to be replaced or the whole place needs painting, the HOA may vote to impose a special assessment on every unit's owner for their share of the repair bill. Large special assessments are usually proposed fairly far in advance -- a year or more is normal -- so if your inspector sees a lot of things wrong with the exterior of the property, pay special attention when you are reviewing HOA newsletters and board meeting minutes to see if repairs have been proposed, and if so, whether the expense will be covered by the HOA's reserves or special assessments against individual owners. Similarly, the pest inspectors often offer to split their condo inspection reports into sections based on whether the unit's owner or the HOA would be responsible for correcting the problem: under-sink leaks go under "Owner," and termites in the building's crawl space go under "HOA." And, unless your unit is a stand-alone townhome or in a building with only one other unit, it probably doesn't make sense to have a roof inspection. (The HOA is almost always responsible for the roof -- double check your HOA disclosures to be sure!)

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