NY Condo HOA abuses power, now threatens foreclosure - what are my rights?

Asked by The Chuckster, Dutchess County, NY Tue Jul 31, 2012

I live in a small 15-unit condo building. The HOA board is comprised of 4 owners, who recently voted (with no consultation with the rest of us) to put an imported tile roof on the building instead of a normal asphalt shingle roof. The cost of the tile roof is $500,000 versus $50,000 for the normal roof. The 4 board members are all multi-millionaires and the rest of us are not at the same economic level as they are.

My assessment for this "repair" is $25,000 which there is absolutely no way I can afford. They are now threatening to foreclose on my home if I do not come up with the cash.

I feel like I've been steamrolled here -- they voted to do this and have already authorized the contractor to start work (it started three days ago!) -- so there's no turning back on the project at this point.

I guess I'm going to lose my home because the minority of owners wanted a tile roof on the building. Do I have any recourse at all? What if I simply refuse to pay them?

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Wed Aug 1, 2012
If the board is multi-millionaires, most likely they know what they are doing legally. If you can't afford that roof assessment, perhaps you can't afford an attorney, either.

And I do think there's more to the story here.

If I were in your situation, based on what is said here, and if I couldn't afford an attorney, I would negotiate with the board and see what can be worked out. Perhaps a long-term payment plan for the roof.

But you can probably find an attorney who would take this on for a few thousand dollars or so.

Karla Harby
Lic RE Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Tue Jul 31, 2012
It's really in your best interest to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate; don't simply rely on online information...
0 votes
Thomas Brady, Agent, Plainview, NY
Tue Jul 31, 2012
You need to consult an attorney. The consequences to your life are too big to just put it out on Trulia.
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Notary Public, Retired N.Y.P.D. Lt.
"We treat you like family!"
Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc.
255 Executive Drive - Suite 104
Plainview, New York 11803
0 votes
Tammy Benkwi…, Agent, Somers, NY
Tue Jul 31, 2012
Voted with no consultation? Doubtful. An HOA board would know the by laws. If a special assessment requires notification, etc they would be foolish to proceed without it. Why? Because a unit owner can hire an attorney to intervene which will likely cost the HOA money to defend itself. (unless they were smart enough to purchase errors and omissions insurance.)

Why didn't you contact your attorney as soon as you received the assessment notification which would come before the roofing work started?

Sorry, but I have been on a condo board. We had to beg people to come to a meeting. Apathy runs rampant in most condos because owners don't understand that they have a responsibility to stay informed and participate.

Call your real estate attorney.
0 votes
They did have meetings and we were given plans and estimates (and assessment numbers) for the $50,000 repair. After that, they met and decided to go for the imported tile -- and simply sent out a letter stating that, with our new assessment numbers (10x the prior number). Work commenced on the project three days after that letter was sent.

I can't afford to even consult with an attorney right now, and they have almost unlimited legal resources. Sorry you concluded that I am apathetic toward this; that's not the case. I was blindsided by it.

I just want to know what my rights are, and if it is true that they can leapfrog my bank and foreclose on my property and have the sheriff remove me from my home (which is what they told me they would do).
Flag Tue Jul 31, 2012
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