Friday, October 30, 2015

Understanding Special Assessments

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: everyone hates special assessments. Getting a notice that you owe more money to the association can not only put a damper on your day but also a dent in your wallet, both of which the board is sympathetic to. In a perfect world, there would never be a need for special assessments—or any other type of assessments for that matter—but sadly, they’re sometimes a necessary evil.

Often times, special assessments are levied when the association needs to make essential repairs, improvements or additions to the common elements, but lacks extra reserve funds to cover the costs. While the board puts in its best effort to keep a healthy reserve fund and to budget in advance for these types of projects, occasionally unforeseen expenses occur. When this happens, we have to call upon our residents to pitch in financially so that our association can remain solvent. Unfortunately special assessments aren’t optional fees, and residents are responsible for paying special assessments in the same way they’re responsible for general association assessments. Just remember, though, that these fees are funding projects that will benefit all residents, and your special assessment fees are your contribution toward that.

Of course, the board doesn’t take levying special assessments lightly. Not only do we understand that special assessments can be a hardship for you, but—since we would also be responsible for paying our share of any new special assessment—they’re an extra financial burden on resident board members as well. Because of this, we try and make levying special assessments a last resort, and, if passed, offer payment plans when possible. There are also regulations set forth in our bylaws that we must follow before levying a special assessment, and in some instances we require residents to vote on the proposed project before we can adopt the special assessment for it. Make sure your opinions on these matters are heard by attending open board meetings and voting on these critical projects.      

While none of this changes the fact that having to pay special assessments fees is about as fun as a root canal, just remember that it’s all part of the greater good for the association. They’re investments to your home and your community, and can help keep our association a wonderful place to live for years to come.

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