Four Signs of a Bad Condo Association


One of the focuses of Better Condo Life is exactly what the name says – living a better Condo life.  This site believes in giving you the tools to succeed and flourish in community Associations of all types.  While it is important to keep a positive attitude, the reality is that there are bad Condo Associations out there, and bad Boards.  An informed Owner needs to be able to read the signs.  Here are four signs of a Bad Condo Association to look out for.

1. You Cannot Get Access to Critical Association Documents

If your Condo Association treats its docs like this, you are seeing one of the signs of a bad Condo Association.
If your Condo Association treats its docs like this, you are seeing one of the signs of a bad Condo Association.

One of the most important transparency measures in any organization – particularly a Condo Association – is the availability of records and documents.  Mandated by law and the Association’s Bylaws, being able to see how an Association conducts its business is critical.  If an Association makes it difficult or denies you access to these documents, you have a big problem.  It means the Association is trying to hide something or is so sloppy that it can’t be bothered to follow its own rules.  Not good.

2. Meetings are Not Announced Consistently or Transparently

Another important aspect of transparency is the ability for Owners to understand Association business and say their piece at a meeting.  For this to happen, Owners need to know a meeting is even happening.  Whether it’s a regular monthly meeting, a committee meeting, or an annual meeting, the Bylaws need to be followed and exceeded.  Meetings should be well-advertised – in common areas, via electronic means and even potentially via written distribution.  Owners should not have to play detective to know if a meeting is happening.

3. Boards are Not Consistent in Rules Enforcement

Consistent rules enforcement is another major issue that shows if an Association is on the straight and narrow or not.  While some Associations may ignore rules, this isn’t necessarily a red flag.  The issue is when the rule is enforced sometimes and not others.  If there is a rules dispute, you should always ask an Association what their precedent is and for records to back it up.  The Association should be able to provide records and show consistent enforcement.  If they can’t, that tells you something important.  

4. The Association is Not Following a Reserve Study

What's a reserve study, the Board asks?
What’s a reserve study, the Board asks?

An Association that cares about its financial footing will have carried out a reserve study.  The reserve study is a core part of any Association’s financial footing.  If an Association is not saving funds for future major projects, the Association likely could face a Special Assessment.  There are two key things to ask: Has the Association carried out a reserve study?  If so, are they following its recommendations?  If not, why not?  

These Dangers Signs Mean You Need to Act

If you see these signs of a bad Condo Association, you need to act.  These sorts of issues do not resolve themselves.  You need to start building networks of like-minded Owners and be ready to lead a resistance movement.  Take ownership and work to get good people elected to your Board of Directors.  Bad Boards can do terrible things (link horror stories).  If you see these signs of a bad Condo Association, don’t let it happen to you – start fighting back.  

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