Get Out of the Politic Mess

Dustin and his wife need a new roof for their condo. They have an emergency fund, but his neighbors are all broke. How can they take care of this without the condo owing them money?

QUESTION: Dustin in Illinois is having a problem with his homeowners’ association. He and his wife need a new roof for their condo. They have an emergency fund, but his neighbors are all broke. The roof will cost $30,000, but Dustin’s share of that should only be $5,000. How can they take care of this without the condo owing them money?

ANSWER: I don’t want to put a $30,000 roof on everybody else’s house. I don’t like that.

Here’s the problem: Even if they’re broke, the roof has to be fixed. A special assessment is in order. The problem is if they don’t pay the special assessment, there’s no money to pay the roofer.

If they don’t have the money personally to hit the special assessment, all you can do is take a lien. Let’s say everybody voted and you got majority even. You’d have to take a lien on people’s property, and you still can’t fix the roof because there’s no cash in the equation. If you fund it, I don’t know how you’re getting your money back—ever.

I’m interested in selling. Versus dropping $30,000 into somebody else’s roof, I’m out of there.

I might do a partial roof that covers your area. It’s going to be ugly as crud, but I’d just go, “Hey, I’m putting a roof on mine. Y’all aren’t. That’s okay.” You could do that. I kind of think, though, I’m just out of there. You can sell the thing and be done. Maybe that answers the question. This is not going anywhere good.

I’d sell the building at 6.5% premium as if it had a roof on it. We’re all out of here, and I’m out of this politic mess with these broke people.

Small ones are particularly bad, but I’ve got to tell you, HOAs—I own a bunch of property, and there are a few of them that are good, but almost all of them attract one guy who does not have a life, and he makes it his job to be Barney Fife of the neighborhood. They’re a total pain in the butt. It’s just everywhere you go. I’ve got one in almost every neighborhood I own. It’s crazy. You’ve got it even worse because you’ve only got six units.

I’m out of there. That would be my answer.

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