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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Wow. Just wow.

I feel for you guys and pray that something good comes your way to help you.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 4:39
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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JadedJC wrote:
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RChiong wrote:
After further digging, we found out that the association are the unit owners themselves. However, we still have no access to reserves that supposedly were in place at the time of sale and no tax ID to start a new bank account with the same association name.


Realistically, I don't think there are any reserves magically hidden away somewhere from before you bought your condo. It sounds like the association was already defunct well before you moved into the building, meaning if maintenance wasn't being collected, reserves weren't being built up. You yourself said the previous owner of your unit engaged in deception by passing off her own bank account statement as the association's reserves. The fact that your attorney couldn't even send your three-month's contribution anywhere to be deposited by the association is another clue that it had long fallen into neglect. Even if there are reserves tucked away somewhere, they're unlikely to be more than a few thousand dollars for a small building like yours - probably not enough to fully cover a roof replacement without a special assessment on unit owners.

As I said in post #3, the owners are the association, I don't know of any other setup. It's up to all of you, collectively, to take responsibility. There's no point in dwelling on who did what in the past. You and your neighbors have to decide how to proceed going forward if you want to salvage your investment in your home.


A lot of things that I have said are us assuming what happened with the previous owner. We are in the dark about a lot of things because we were verbally told that any issues would be addressed by the association which we thought was a whole other body of people not in the building.

Anyway, the probs that happened in the past are still the same recurring problems that exist because some owners want to get the association going and others don't.

We're at a standstill now because the only person that has access and is a chief officer in this association is making it seem like he has no idea what is going on and doesn't care to. The association is in a revoked status per the document I was recommended to pay for -- so I'm not even sure how anyone was able to refi after that happened.

The lawyer we saw stated that we could sue to get people to get this association again but he said it would cost us 20-25k to do this and for that we may as well just use the money to replace the roof. -_- Really we just don't know what to do and we have tried so many things to get ourselves out of this mess but it's nearly impossible.

Posted on: 2013/10/10 19:30
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Did you request the financials or budget? Minutes from meetings?



We were under the impression that there was a large reserve when we were looking into buying the property. We didn't think to ask for actual paperwork on it, otherwise.

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The master deed would have come in with your title search and would have listed the association. The by-laws may have also stated that after a certain number of units were sold or after a certain date, the owners would have to elect a new board themselves.



I have to take a look at the paperwork again to see if this is true.

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Then do a corporate name search on the NJ website and pay $6.25 to see if the status has been revoked on the association and who the registered agent is.



Did this and found that the association's status is revoked as of last year for failure to file annual reports for over 2 years. The only officer there appears to be one of the current owners who claims he knows nothing. -_-

Not sure if I was to find any other previous officers on this report or not BUT the owner that sold to us said she was VP of the association. Based on what any of the info says in my original paperwork about electing new officials, not sure if she was entitled to sign off as VP so the closing would go through.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 18:23
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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RChiong wrote:
After further digging, we found out that the association are the unit owners themselves. However, we still have no access to reserves that supposedly were in place at the time of sale and no tax ID to start a new bank account with the same association name.


Realistically, I don't think there are any reserves magically hidden away somewhere from before you bought your condo. It sounds like the association was already defunct well before you moved into the building, meaning if maintenance wasn't being collected, reserves weren't being built up. You yourself said the previous owner of your unit engaged in deception by passing off her own bank account statement as the association's reserves. The fact that your attorney couldn't even send your three-month's contribution anywhere to be deposited by the association is another clue that it had long fallen into neglect. Even if there are reserves tucked away somewhere, they're unlikely to be more than a few thousand dollars for a small building like yours - probably not enough to fully cover a roof replacement without a special assessment on unit owners.

As I said in post #3, the owners are the association, I don't know of any other setup. It's up to all of you, collectively, to take responsibility. There's no point in dwelling on who did what in the past. You and your neighbors have to decide how to proceed going forward if you want to salvage your investment in your home.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 18:10
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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CdeCoincy wrote:
Wasn't it the job of your attorney to review all documents related to the organization and the financial stability of the building?


No. Buyers make their own financial decisions and are responsible for knowing what they are getting into, same with their mortgage.

Did you request the financials or budget? Minutes from meetings?

The master deed would have come in with your title search and would have listed the association. The by-laws may have also stated that after a certain number of units were sold or after a certain date, the owners would have to elect a new board themselves.

"That would reset the sale date in the public record online."

I have no idea what online public record you are looking at, but I would suggest you try using the statewide assessment search site. Change the default settings to Huson, etc and look up your property. You will find out a lot more info.

http://tax1.co.monmouth.nj.us/cgi-bin ... ata&district=0801&mode=11

Then do a corporate name search on the NJ website and pay $6.25 to see if the status has been revoked on the association and who the registered agent is.

Call up your title company (their name will be on your owners policy and on your HUD), give them the file # and ask them to e-mail you the binder if they still have it in their system. The master deed, along with almost everything you need to know, will be in there.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 15:47
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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After further digging, we found out that the association are the unit owners themselves. However, we still have no access to reserves that supposedly were in place at the time of sale and no tax ID to start a new bank account with the same association name.

There was a concern we had when we saw a water mark on the ceiling in our bedroom and we were verbally promised that this would be covered by the association. We (meaning my husband and I) have spent a couple thousand dollars trying to get this repaired time and again, but over time it has been suggested to redo the entire roof which we refuse to pay for ourselves.

We found out that we could have a case against the other unit owners that do not want to manage or get the association up and running again, but the legal fees involved are enormous.

As to our sale, we did receive bylaws that are not enforced. We paid 3 months worth of maintenance fees at closing and our lawyer held the money because he did not know where to send it and we had to contact him to get it back. There was a realtor involved and even though it sounds nice not to make monthly payments, I rather would have done that than deal with the headaches we have had to deal with regarding roof, common area walls and painting, etc.

The 6th unit was taken by the bank but it is not recorded in public record yet. It has been abandoned for the last 3 yrs.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 13:40
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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I am a real estate attorney. You have 6 years in which to bring an action for a breach of contract. Two years for negligence. I presume you never received a "handbook" as to rules and regulations. You never paid a maintenance fee? Was there a realtor involved ? the way I see it is you have "benefited" by not having to make payments. If repairs need to be made simply form a board involving everyone and make a determination on what you will need to repair immediately and what you will start to bank for the future. As to being duped by your attorney, the question is what loss, specifically, have you suffered from which you seek compensation? As to the 6th unit who owns it now?
David Tider
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Posted on: 2013/10/3 20:36
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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I agree with what JadedJC and others are saying here. Forget about suing the previous owner for now. You have some gaping holes that need to be filled in. I also find the whole thing mind-boggling, especially the 2010 refi. I sold a condo in a 6-unit building a couple of years ago, and the amount of paperwork about the Association required by the bank was immense. We had to show capital reserve bank statements, budgets, lists of approved capital expenditures, % of owner occupancy, names of officers, etc.

Our Association seemed pretty lax to me at times (and I was an officer for a while), but to have none at all defies common sense.

The OP needs to address the code violations first, then get the association properly incorporated according to the bylaws. I'm not clear on the legal terminology, but surely the ownership of every unit in the building is subject to the bylaws, so 50% of the owners can't just decide they "don't want" an association.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 12:23
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Well, the record does show a purchase price of $1, which usually happens when there's a marriage, divorce or some other name change/transfer on a deed without an actual sale taking place. That would reset the sale date in the public record online. Looking at the records for the other units in the building, it does look like all the owners have been there since 2007-08. The bank has held the foreclosed unit since 2006. I did find it hard to believe that the owner was able to refinance in 2010 given the absentee association. By then, lenders were definitely requiring detailed info from condo associations, including budgets and bank account statements showing reserves.

I also find it mind boggling that all unit owners were not only duped into thinking that an association was in place but allowed the situation to exist for this many years. Somebody at some point will want to sell, and that ain't gonna happen with all the current issues and no association in charge.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 4:33
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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I also want to chime in that something is weird - a refi should not reset the date on your property record (you mentioned that you re-fi'ed in 2010, which is what the city's website shows, but claimed you purchased in '08). We did a refi on our apartment too, but the city's property record website still shows the original sale date. The city's property record may have info on which bank holds your loan, but it shouldn't change the original purchase date - as the property did not change hands during a re-fi.

From what you said, it sounds like a serious problem that's difficult to get right - we have constant issues with our 5-unit building and condo assoc; nothing as serious as yours, but still big headaches over the years, so I feel your pain. However, something is just not right all the way here...

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ProdigalSon wrote:
Something doesn't sound right. You said you refi'ed in 2010. Things were much stricter then and I cannot imagine you were able to get a bank to sign off without a lot of the basics in place.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 2:32
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Something doesn't sound right. You said you refi'ed in 2010. Things were much stricter then and I cannot imagine you were able to get a bank to sign off without a lot of the basics in place.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 2:12
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Kelcey wrote:
Another thing is that the bank owned unit is not exempt from all of this. It's troubling that you guys are setting a precedent that they don't have responsibility for their share of the common expenses. They will also have to pay monthly maintenance once the association gets 'refreshed' and starts collecting monthly fees. They should be responsible for 1/6th of the fire code violation costs. And they too won't be able to sell until this all gets cleared up. The association will probably have to put a lien on their unit should they fail to pay their share (not to mention figure out how to cover it before the bank steps up).

This sounds awful, and it's terrible that you have to go through this. I can understand why that other owner walked away. It's a huge decision that is not without consequences.


If the association doesn't exist, you cannot retroactively charge someone fees once you create one. Something is very wrong with this story. How can THIS many owners have been duped into thinking an association existed? First of all, who filled out the mandatory condo questionnaire for the mortgage companies upon application for a mortgage?? I think these unit owners need to get together and figure out what is going on. This situation almost can't exist.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 1:16
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Another thing is that the bank owned unit is not exempt from all of this. It's troubling that you guys are setting a precedent that they don't have responsibility for their share of the common expenses. They will also have to pay monthly maintenance once the association gets 'refreshed' and starts collecting monthly fees. They should be responsible for 1/6th of the fire code violation costs. And they too won't be able to sell until this all gets cleared up. The association will probably have to put a lien on their unit should they fail to pay their share (not to mention figure out how to cover it before the bank steps up).

This sounds awful, and it's terrible that you have to go through this. I can understand why that other owner walked away. It's a huge decision that is not without consequences.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 23:39
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Start an association with the willing, set-up all the bylaws (there are many standard bylaws to 'cut and paste' from online), then have a AGM (invite everyone), elect your officials and you're own your way .... jadedJC is correct and an association isn't on option and those that don't participate or pay quarterly contributions can be legally required to do so if they don't comply.
You should have a list / diagram of 'common area's in your settlement documents when you bought the place. Its only the common areas that the association will be able to deal with - Most buildings have a 'common' roof unless specified that it isn't

Posted on: 2013/10/2 22:33
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Wasn't it the job of your attorney to review all documents related to the organization and the financial stability of the building? I have never bought a condo, but I have bought co-ops in Manhattan (a nightmare) and houses in JC. I cannot imagine the responsibilities of a lawyer are any different in the purchase of a condo. Your grievance might be with your attorney and the seller's attorney and agent.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 22:17
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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RChiong wrote:
We completed our sale with bylaws from the older association (that no one has access to or info for) and bills are still sent and directed to that old association (which has the building's physical address).


You should be able to obtain a copy of the bylaws with the master deed for the building that was filed with the county register. That's where I found them for a previous unit of mine. The office was on Newark Ave by the courts, but this was 10 years ago and it may have moved. Check online. Unless the owners (usually a two-thirds or three-quarters majority) voted to dissolve the "old" association and form a new one, that association is still the legitimate body for overseeing your building. It simply sounds like the unit owners have let it lapse into neglect.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 20:52
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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caj11 wrote:
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RChiong wrote:
Kelsey - We re-fied in 2010 to bring costs down but originally bought in 2008. From some of the research I've done, it seems like the statute of limitations for consumer fraud is 6 years so hopefully we can sort this out with a lawyer that knows his/her stuff.

blanquiita -- No, we don't pay maintenance fees because there is no association. We pay bills individually as they are due and split them in 5 ways.



Now that's really weird. I was told that ANY condo building in Jersey City where each unit is separately owned is required to have an association that pays dues to management company if there are any common expenses - water & sewage being the one that all buildings with multiple units share, even if it is just a duplex. A realtor told me this, I'm not sure if she was right, but she claimed that a duplex with each unit owned by different families still needs to form a 2-member association to pay dues to and have the management company pay the water and sewage bills out of that, as strange as it sounds (though I can see the merits of it too).


That's only partially true. By law, condo buildings must have an association. The association is required to collect dues and pay common expenses - and there must be a separate bank account set up in the association's name and a clear accounting of the finances. You don't have to hire a management company. There are a number of small buildings that are self-managed, and they've done quite well.

Certain owners "not wanting" a condo association isn't an option. There has to be one in place, and it should be collecting dues every month. When you buy into a condo you agree to be governed by the bylaws for that building and to pay monthly dues. The association has the power to put a lien on any unit owner who fails to pay dues. This is where you need a lawyer to come in and set the other owners straight on the necessity of a functioning association.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 20:31
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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The whole thing sounds crazy. Does anyone know if it's even legal for owners to refuse to participate in an association? Without an association what's to stop them from simply declining to participate in common expenses? Maybe you can create an association with the willing owners and then use lawyers to compel the others to join. Could be all you have to do is inform their mortgage holder of the situation.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 20:29
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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We bought the condo with the lie that there was an association in place. There was one in place prior to the sale, but when we started living there, other owners claimed that the previous owner would collect money and never paid bills with it.

We have tried to ask the oldest owner to provide us with tax info for the old association to no avail. We have tried to create a new association to no avail as well because half the owners do not want one.

We completed our sale with bylaws from the older association (that no one has access to or info for) and bills are still sent and directed to that old association (which has the building's physical address).

There are no reserves of any kind that we are aware of or have access to so any issues of common areas surrounding our unit has come at an out of pocket cost.

I'm not sure how the sale went through at all and we have thought about contacting a lawyer in the past but were hesitant to do so because of the emotional headaches and price tag. However, due to all of the out of pocket expenses we have had, our desire to get rid of the unit and now fire code violations -- It seems like it's just time to see what our chances are based on what everyone here is saying.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 20:16
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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RChiong wrote:
Kelsey - We re-fied in 2010 to bring costs down but originally bought in 2008. From some of the research I've done, it seems like the statute of limitations for consumer fraud is 6 years so hopefully we can sort this out with a lawyer that knows his/her stuff.

blanquiita -- No, we don't pay maintenance fees because there is no association. We pay bills individually as they are due and split them in 5 ways.



Now that's really weird. I was told that ANY condo building in Jersey City where each unit is separately owned is required to have an association that pays dues to management company if there are any common expenses - water & sewage being the one that all buildings with multiple units share, even if it is just a duplex. A realtor told me this, I'm not sure if she was right, but she claimed that a duplex with each unit owned by different families still needs to form a 2-member association to pay dues to and have the management company pay the water and sewage bills out of that, as strange as it sounds (though I can see the merits of it too).

Posted on: 2013/10/2 20:03
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Your situation/circumstances sound unique, and anyone would be hesitant to provide any specific advice because there are too many variables in play. It doesn't sound like you need a "new" association. You need an involved, responsible association comprised of officers (i.e. owners) willing to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities for the building. Your bylaws, which should be filed with the master deed for your building, should serve as the governing document for your association. Among other things, it should cover how often meetings and elections should be held, the percentage voting rights of each unit, what comprises the common area and elements of the building, when budgets should be drawn up, how funds should be assessed to cover major repairs or capital improvements, etc.

I was in a somewhat similar situation, and the only general advice I can offer (and this was what our lawyer told us at the time): Fix what needs to be fixed first, assign blame later. Right now you have fire-code violations. If they're not addressed, the insurance coverage for your building, and for your unit possibly, could be canceled. If that happens, you and every other owner are screwed. You need a lawyer to navigate the buildings department and to get your association on track.

Kelcey is right about the two separate issues here. In my experience, though, suing a previous owner will be emotionally and financially draining, and there's no guarantee of winning. Lawyers are also very hesitant to sue other lawyers. You may just want to bite the bullet, fix what needs to be fixed so that you are able to actually sell the place and move on. You may have to take a loss, but that's got to be much better than prolonging the current situation, or entering a protracted legal battle you may not win. Good luck.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 19:17
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Kelsey - We re-fied in 2010 to bring costs down but originally bought in 2008. From some of the research I've done, it seems like the statute of limitations for consumer fraud is 6 years so hopefully we can sort this out with a lawyer that knows his/her stuff.

blanquiita -- No, we don't pay maintenance fees because there is no association. We pay bills individually as they are due and split them in 5 ways.


Posted on: 2013/10/2 19:02
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Do you pay maintenance fees?

Posted on: 2013/10/2 18:58
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Go see a lawyer. It might be a quick visit. If you've exceeded the statute of limitations for this type of issue, then you won't have a case. But you really have two different issues.

One is whether or not you have any recourse against your original lawyer and/or the seller (probably not, given the length of time--though you say about five years when a property search suggests you bought in July 2010 so you might not have exceeded the time limit).

The other is getting a lawyer involved to help get your association organized going forward. But that would have to be someone that everyone (i.e., the association) agrees to work with. As I don't think any of you will be able to sell until you get one in place and have financial reserves, this seems like it would be in the best interest of all parties.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 18:38
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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We pay expenses when bills are due.

Half the owners wanted to make a new association, the other half didn't.

One of the owners actually owned the whole building at one point and sold off all units at different times. Someone that bought off of him, sold to us under the false pretenses that there was still an association in place when there was not.

She used her bank account to create an illusion of there being a reserve in place.

Total there are 6 units but only 5 owners are still around taking responsibility. The 6th owner just let the bank take the property because they didn't want to spend on lawyer fees or didn't know what else to do to get rid of the place.

Again, when we bought there was no management company or association in place as we were made to believe. Also our lawyer was negligent enough to not realize this and so here we are 5 years later.

Calling a new lawyer sounds pretty obvious but considering the circumstances, I was looking for advice from someone who has been through a similar situation or from someone that knows a good lawyer that may be able to help us.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 17:34
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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What is the address?

Posted on: 2013/10/2 17:05
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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I would expect roof repairs to be an association expense, but this should be outlined in your bylaws.

Pest problems and wear and tear depend on whether they were in common areas. If common areas, I would expect them to be association expenses, but again, this should be outlined.

Are you saying that you've personally been paying for maintenance of common areas? Have you been having regular association meetings? Does your association collect monthly maintenance fees?

Online, it looks like your condo association was established in 2002. Didn't your lender require financial statements before approving the mortgage?

Posted on: 2013/10/2 15:46
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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Since you say it's a condo, I'm assuming there's more than one unit in this building. What do they have to say about the situation? First things first, the owners need to get together and establish a condo association if there isn't one and get it registered, as an LLC, I believe, and elect officers. This should've been done as soon as the project was completed and all the units sold. The owners are the association and they are collectively responsible for taking care of the building's common elements and general maintenance. If you don't want to be self managed, then it's incumbent upon the owners to hire a property manager to oversee repairs and general upkeep.

The situation you describe sounds confusing - as if you bought condos, but didn't set up an association. Or the owners all assumed someone else was taking care of it. Was this a new project when you bought it? Have you been paying monthly maintenance fees all this time? Where was it being paid to? Sounds like you guys need to hire a lawyer to get sorted out at this point and advice on the fire-code violations. The lawyer should be a shared cost by all unit owners in the building.

If you don't get this sorted out, no one will be able to sell in the building. Fire code violations aside, mortgage companies aren't going to lend to a buyer if the building doesn't have an association in place with annual budget and financial statements for the building. The cost of not getting legal help at this point will be far greater than just shelling out for a lawyer.

Posted on: 2013/10/2 14:59
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Re: Bought condo under false pretenses
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I'm sorry to hear this. Our building lost a management company last year, but we found a pretty good one shortly.

How many units in your condo building?
What are other unit owners saying?
Shouldn't the expense to maintain the building be shared by all unit owners?

Posted on: 2013/10/2 14:51
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Bought condo under false pretenses
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My husband and I bought a condo in Jersey City Heights about 5 years ago. There was no condo association in place or building owner and we were not aware of this as the seller brought bylaws to the table and misrepresented herself as a chief officer.

We have since incurred costs on roof repairs, pest problems, wear and tear within the building, insulating walls and now we are hit with fire violations for the building. We bought a condo thinking things would be made easier because we wouldn't have to clean as much and any repairs necessary would be funded by the association...WRONG!

We have tried to sell the unit with no avail because no one wants to buy for as much as we owe in the area and no one wants anything self-managed. In addition, we have not done anything about this in the past because we thought we would waste our time and spend so much money in lawyer fees.

We're thinking that now might be a good time to do something considering the hefty violation fees we would have to pay for these fire violations. Does anyone know if it's possible to sue the previous owner for misrepresentation or the lawyer that worked with us for negligence to uncover this problem? It's been 5 years so not sure we can do anything about it now, but any tips would be appreciated!

Posted on: 2013/10/2 14:43
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