DEAR BOB: Last year, in a freak hailstorm, the vinyl siding on some of the townhomes in our complex were severely damaged. The condominium homeowner’s insurance policy paid up to its maximum limit, but that wasn’t enough. The association then assessed each owner of the other undamaged units $2,400 each. Yet we have over $175,000 still in our reserve funds that should pay for extraordinary expenses like this. The association directors say (1) they already took $100,000 from reserves, and (2) if they take the additional needed funds from the reserves, that would leave us without adequate reserves for emergencies. Can a homeowner association assess undamaged unit owners in this situation? –Inez D.
DEAR INEZ: Presuming the special assessment doesn’t violate the homeowner association “C C & Rs” (conditions, covenants, and restrictions) or the by-laws, after the vote of the board of directors it appears they had the legal right to levy the $2,400 assessment on each owner.
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That’s why you elect a board of directors to make very difficult decisions like that. I realize it seems unfair to assess the undamaged unit owners, especially when there are reserve funds that could be used to pay the additional costs.
THE EASIEST PLACE TO FIND LOCAL REVERSE MORTGAGE AGENTS
DEAR BOB: My bank had a sign in its lobby offering reverse mortgage loans to senior citizen homeowners like me. I contacted the recommended agent, but she only offers the FHA reverse mortgage. Because my home is worth at least $750,000, when I asked her about the Financial Freedom Plan that you say has higher limits, she had never heard of it. Where can I find out information? –Sarah H.
DEAR SARAH: That’s easy. On the Internet, just go to www.reversemortgage.org and click on your state to find qualified representatives offering all three types of reverse mortgages. If you don’t have a computer, just go to your public library reference department and they will be glad to assist you.
AFTER YOU GIVE AWAY PROPERTY, YOU CAN’T GET IT BACK
DEAR BOB: I am 82 and depend on my two adult children to take care of me in my farm home where I enjoy living alone. They live nearby and take me grocery shopping, to doctor appointments, church and wherever I need to go without ever complaining. I think we get along great and I am very happy. About two years ago, I deeded my farm to them in equal shares. The farm is leased to a neighbor farmer, who has leased it for about 20 years. He pays the rent to my children and they send it to me. The problem is this tenant farmer now wants to buy my farm. He made me a very generous offer. However, I told him I no longer own they farm and he must deal with my children. But they refuse to sell. I think they should grab this generous offer. What can I do? –Alice R.
DEAR ALICE: Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do because you no longer own the farm. Your situation shows why generous parents should resist the urge to deed property to their adult children, even when they are the greatest kids on earth.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Earn Your First Profit When Buying Your Home or Investment Property Right,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF delivery at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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