How to correct the size of our condo in the association’s documents?
Q: In our condo, all units have two bedrooms, but some are slightly larger and pay $ 40 more in monthly maintenance. Ours is one of the smaller units, but it is listed in the condo documents as a larger one. We paid the lesser amount and the association cashed the checks telling us we have to pay the difference. Now they are threatening us with interest and late fees. What can we do? —Ron
A: For now, at least you have to pay the amounts shown on your condominium declaration. By not paying the specified amount each month, you risk late fees, interest, and even possible legal action from your community.
When people don’t pay their association, the association accepts payment and applies it to overdue balances, charges, and interest before the current month.
The check you write this month is used for older, unpaid charges, which increases your delinquency. It snowballs your debt, especially when lawyers in your community are called upon to collect. You will also have to pay their fees.
I understand the instinct to stand up for yourself, but like most things, there is a right and wrong way to do it. You cannot withhold contributions, even partially, because you disagree with something the association is doing.
Just ignoring the rules, even if they are wrong, and doing your own thing will only make matters worse.
I once saw someone lose their condo because of what started out as a disagreement over $ 6 in maintenance fees and got out of hand year after year.
You must pay the amount in your condo documents while fixing the problem.
You will need to prove to your community that the co-ownership documents are wrong. You may need to hire a professional to measure and report the actual size of your unit.
Once your community is aware of the error, a vote of the majority of unit owners can correct it.
When this happens, you should be entitled to an overpayment refund.
In dispute with your condominium association? Write checks for the full amount even when you press your record, or you could quickly find yourself in a financial hole.
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, commercial litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Florida. He is chair of the real estate section of the Broward County Bar Association and co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He consults frequently on general Florida real estate issues and trends with various companies across the country. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.