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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 7147
Experience:  Lawyer- Broker 30+years - foreclosure, short sale, liens, title attorney.
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My husband and I bought a condo in CA. We needed to renovate

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My husband and I bought a condo in CA. We needed to renovate the entire condo due to termite damage and mold due to leaks on the roof (and termites through out the building). I asked for permits necessary for the renovation, since it was going to be down to the studs, and had all the work inspected by the city. Still, after the work had been done we were asked to tear down the shear wall because the HOA needed to see if the work had been done properly. During the renovation we also took out the hearth, fireplace, in the first floor and turned it into a nook. We were informed that the fireplace is a "common area" and we were not supposed to change it without 2/3 vote from the homeowners. We were asked to pay for inspections for both the shear wall and the fireplace/nook changes to make sure the work was structurally sound. We did that. Now even though it has passed all inspections the HOA President informed us we may still need to put a fireplace back into the nook area because "what if the new owner asks "where is the fireplace?"- that was the reasoning the President gave us. Is there any document we can sign that would make us responsible for the changes made that would get HOA off our back?
I've never heard of an area inside ones' condo being considered "common area". Have you been shown any plat or drawings or parts of your CCRs to support that claim? Does that mean that anyone may come in and sit by your fireplace and read a book anytime they wish? I would not sign anything without first getting a legal opinion on that common area issue. If the HOA is right, then let your attorney deal with either an agreement or seeking 2/3 consent. I've seen goofy HOA stuff, but your situation takes the cake.
I hope this Answer is helpful and that you will give it a positive rating. If you have any follow up questions please send back a Reply. You should consult a local attorney to verify that this information is accurate for your state. Thank you for using Just Answer. We appreciate your business.

I don't know the reason for your "poor service" rating. If I have misunderstood your question, please send me a follow up requesting clarification of what I said. I believe my answer gave you a positive approach to solve your problem.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you Irwin, I didn't mean to click on the poor service icon, but I couldn't figure out how to go back and change it. I did want to send you a copy of the CCR laws they claim we broke, but I have to type it, since it's a hard copy. will try to tomorrow or later tonight. again, my apologies for the wrong icon!!! let me know how to change it.

You can change it by simply clicking on one of the three happy face ratings for this "Answer", of Okay, Good or Excellent Service. That over rides the prior rating and also triggers the payment to Pearl and I am compensated. I will continue to answer your follow up questions. I have a question: Is the fireplace nook on an exterior wall or outside patio? If so, that might be why it is considered common area. Anyway, if you click on a positive rating for this, we can go on with follow up questions.

Irwin Law and other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It is on an exterior wall. I'm super busy this week, but maybe I can scan and copy the CCR parts pertaining to this matter.

thanks again, and I'll try changing the icon :)

ok...just tried to rate you differently and clicked on icon and said I had no access to that page.


The revised rating and payment went through so don't worry about it. Thank you There could be an agreement between you and the HOA whereby the HOA permits you or agrees to alter that section of the common area. That would be binding on whoever buys the unit from you. They could never insist that the HOA replace it. The HOA (IMO)can argue that your buyer has waived any such claims because the fireplace was obviously missing when they bought it. Sounds like the proverbial "tempest in a teapot".