I live in a homeowner Association in Pennsylvania. The association is comprised of townhomes, (row houses) in blocks of four, six, and eight units. The developer deeded to each owner their house, inside and out, the roofs, the airspace above, and the footprint of the land beneath the house. Most deeds allow for a few extra feet of land in the front and back of middle units and end units have deeds that define a few feet, front, back and along the side of end units.
In 2003, the Association amended the declaration such that maintenance of the homes siding (siding is a generic term for whatever covers a frame building) would an Association Responsibility and as such, a Common Expense. This was to insure that the outside of their homes would all have a uniform appearances as this is a prized attribute of Homeowner Associations.
What wasn't foreseen at the time was that the building siding which is stucco might need more than simple maintenance but complete replacement. Stucco cladding over wood frame buildings has been found to have severe issues in this region of the United States. As an example, this article states that "Eastern Pennsylvania is the stucco failure capital of the United States."
The homes are not all the same design and size. Even within a block of row homes, the end units have twice as much stucco cladding as the middle units. But it isn't this simple, some blocks of homes are of a different design than others, some larger, some more complex in design, etc. In other words, the cost to replace and/or repair the stucco of the homes as individual units will vary significantly.
Here's the question: Pennsylvania's law states in Title 68, §5314. Assessments for common expenses, (c) (2) "Any common expense benefiting fewer than all of the units shall be assessed exclusively against the units benefited." This statement is echoed in our Declaration. In that we are not a condominium association, but that the common expense money is being used to repair individual homeowners' deeded property, should everyone pay the same or should they pay what it costs for the Association to fulfill their responsibility in maintaining the stucco siding for only their own home?
Common funds are being used to repair the personal property of the homeowners but the costs will vary significantly from home to home based upon whether it is an end unit, its design, condition, and size. The costs have already varied significantly as some homeowners have had thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars of repairs to their homes and others have had no repairs. None of the reserve fund studies conducted over the Association's life, including the most recent conducted in 2011, anticipated this possible stucco failure and the funds are not in place. The owners getting their homes repaired first may get out (repaired and sold) before special assessments are required.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service.