My homeowner association fee is a rip-off

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Editor's note: Robert Bruss is temporarily away. The following column from Bruss' "Best of" collection first appeared Sunday, July 2, 2006. DEAR BOB: My friend owns a condo and is paying a high $300 per month homeowner association fee. But the garden and maintenance of the building has gone to pot. I told her to call someone to audit the books. What should she do? --Elaine F. DEAR ELAINE: Don't jump to conclusions. Your friend should attend the monthly homeowner association board of directors meetings to politely ask why the garden and other maintenance is so poor. Maybe there is a good reason, such as unexpected high costs for roof repairs. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. For example, I own a second-home condo where an old rock retaining wall recently collapsed. The unexpected replacement cost will be $26,000. Fortunately, our well-managed association has several times that amount in reserves so a replacement retaining wall can be built without affecting other...