Q: How should the board member interviewing new residents in our condominium association handle knowing there will be a significant increase in the monthly maintenance fees due to the increasing insurance premium? It is a sensitive subject for sellers to discuss with buyers, but we want to be transparent as an association with our new neighbors. —Maureen
A: Rising costs, underfunded reserves, and needed maintenance are big issues right now for condominium associations that will require the residents to pay more each month.
These increases will occur in most associations, and everyone buying or living in a condo should know about this issue.
Dues, taxes, and insurance almost always go up each year, and while maintenance dues can stay the same for a while, eventually, everyone’s dues will rise.
The seller should be disclosing pending increases and special assessments as part of the sales process, but many are unaware of the inner workings of their community and may not know of the rise.
The board has to walk a fine line between disclosing important information to potential new owners while not going overboard and interfering in the transaction.
Make sure this information is being shared with your residents and only share the same information with the applicants.
Post information in the lobby, email residents, and generally let everyone know about these upcoming expenses. People grudgingly accept increased costs if they understand the reason.
After getting your association’s attorney’s approval, you can include the upcoming budget and projected expenses in the application process.
If the applicant asks about possible increases, be truthful but do not guess information you are unsure of.
There is nothing wrong with telling someone that the dues will increase; you do not know how much yet because you are waiting on the insurance quote.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.