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.
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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 budgeted maintenance expenses.
Your friend should politely investigate first, then complain only if the homeowner association management seems out of line. If she doesn’t attend the monthly directors meetings to keep informed, she shouldn’t complain yet.
CAN HOMEOWNER FORCE NEW NEIGHBOR TO MOVE THE FENCE?
DEAR BOB: I bought my home 13 years ago. My neighbor’s fence is on my property by approximately 2 feet. I allowed the original neighbor to leave the fence there. However, when my new neighbor purchased about a year ago, I asked her to move the fence, according to my survey. She has not. What recourse do I have? –Julie H.
DEAR JULIE: From your description, it appears the fence is on your property. Therefore, it is your fence. You can remove it if you wish.
But you can’t force the new neighbor to pay the cost of tearing down your fence and rebuilding it on the other side of the boundary. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
WHAT EXPENSES MUST LIFE ESTATE TENANT PAY?
DEAR BOB: You recently had a question involving a disabled daughter for whom the parents wished to provide their house after they pass on. You wisely suggested the parents leave the house to their three adult children but with a life estate in the house for the disabled daughter who now lives with the parents. What if there is a mortgage on the house? Will the payments be split among all the siblings? –Laura A.
DEAR LAURA: As I recall that question, it was a free-and-clear house so the disabled daughter would not have any mortgage payments.
However, if there is a mortgage, the life tenant has the legal obligation to pay the property taxes, repairs and mortgage payments. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “Probate Property Profit Secrets Revealed,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center).
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