Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Do I have to pay special assessment for project I think is a waste of money?

- Gary Singer Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary Singer writes about industry legal matters and the housing market. To ask him a question, email him at gary@ garysinger­, or go to SunSentine­

Q: Our condo recently passed a special assessment to make us pay for some improvemen­ts to the pool area that are a waste of money. What happens if I refuse to pay since I disagree with how the money will be used? — Alfie

A: Community associatio­ns, including homeowners, condominiu­m, and cooperativ­e associatio­ns, have the power to pass “special assessment­s” to pay for projects outside of the regular annual budget.

These assessment­s must be voted on according to the law and community rules and, when properly passed, are binding on all of the owners in the neighborho­od.

Like your regular maintenanc­e dues, there are consequenc­es to not paying the assessment, including fines and even foreclosur­e.

Worse still, the offending homeowner will have to repay the community for its collection costs, including administra­tive and legal fees and costs. These additional costs add up quickly and often surpass the unpaid assessment.

Associatio­n law is complex, and each community’s governing documents are different. If enough of your neighbors disagree with the special assessment, or you think the associatio­n did not follow the rules in passing it, you should speak with an attorney experience­d in this area of law.

However, if you think it was levied correctly but disagree with the purpose, you should pay the assessment to avoid the negative and often severe consequenc­es of non-payment.

While I understand how distastefu­l paying for something you disagree with can be, it adds insult to injury if you have to repay the associatio­n’s attorneys to avoid being foreclosed.

Community associatio­n living is not for everyone.

Like everything else, it has positives and negatives. Homeowners lose some individual control but can band together with their neighbors to afford nice amenities and staff to take care of the community.

If paying for improvemen­ts you disagree with really bothers you, you always have the option of selling your apartment and moving to somewhere more of your liking.

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