“Below is a message I am preparing to send the president of a neighboring condominiums homeowners association here in Maryland. I am the president of my townhomes’ homeowners association, next door. We have an easement agreement with the condos. In our Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, Article III, Section 3 (b) it states:
“The association shall pay when due it’s proportionate share of all costs of acquiring (including any principal and interest payments on any purchase money financing), maintaining, operating (including payment of any real property tax thereon), repairing, replacing and insuring the recreational facility, storm water management facilities and common entrances benefiting the Property, all as required under the Easement declaration, shall pay when due all other charges imposed against it under the Easement declaration and shall otherwise timely perform all of it’s obligations under the Easement Declaration.”
I am going to go to the Prince George’s County office of Land Records tomorrow and get a copy of this Easement Declaration.
The condo homeowners association is deeply in debt. They are trying to pull themselves out of a hole, but I need assurances that our payments are going toward the shared responsibilities in the Easement Declaration – not their exclusive responsibilities or expenses. For the last 7 months I have put our payments into an escrow account and am striving for a cooperative agreement to use that money toward shared expenses and reinstate our payments with budget assurances that our payments are used for the responsibilities listed in Article III section 3 (b).
The message I intend to send includes this text:
“As I have mentioned to you before, we have funds that have been withheld (for the past 7 months, since the swimming pool failed to open) from sending to [your association], and deposited into an escrow account. The withholding of these payments will end when we receive from you, an overview/update of your budget that includes money that we contribute, going to maintaining updating and repairing our easement agreement facilities.
Considering the deterioration of many of these facilities, insufficient maintenance, a failure to inform us about the status of the facilities included in our easement agreement (Example: Closing or opening of the pool, no plans to maintain fitness center environment and equipment), no budgeting for our easement funds and a lack of planning (no fault of yours personally) for regular maintenance and upkeep, this is not unreasonable. We want the best for [our facility], we look forward to reaching an agreement with you about both the escrow funds and resuming payment as soon as we are informed about the budgeting of our contribution – toward the easement agreement facilities.
As I mentioned at our meeting, if these easement agreement facilities were properly maintained by [your association], you would have received all payments as you have before in a timely, and thankful fashion. We look forward to reaching a mutual agreement that will benefit all the residents of [our association], and enable us to resume our payments to you as soon as possible.”
Am I going in the right direction to cooperatively resolve this problem – and do you have any case law examples of a similar situation, that I can use as a guideline to fairly resolve this problem? ”
Each state addresses issues regarding condo associations in different ways. For the finer points of the law in Maryland, I’d suggest finding a specialist who works in that area. In Maryland, each county has a lawyer referral service. You may find the number to call in your county at: http://www.msba.org/public/referral.htm. The number for Prince George’s County legal referral is (301) 952-1440.
As for whether seeking a cooperative resolution is the right path, I heartily recommend it. Litigating isn’t a tool for problem-solving. It sounds like the Association is already having financial troubles. If you want to push them over the edge, add legal bills to their worries. Instead of a letter, I’d recommend a meeting between the two groups, using a mediator if you think that would be helpful in structuring and focusing communications. Talk about your mutual interests, shared goals, and the resources that are available for achieving each. You might get the assurances that you want there or you might find out of the box solutions that serve everyone. Good luck.