Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Read Your Governing Documents

Governing documents? What in the world are they?

Oh, ya. Part of that stack of documents -- about six inches high -- that I signed at closing.


And so, too many buyers sign for their governing documents at closing and then never revisit them. This leads to questions like:
  • Why are my assessments so high?
  • Who picks up the garbage out on the lawn?
  • What happens if I don't pay my assessments?
  • Can I add a window where there isn't one?
  • My roof leaks -- where do I go for help?
  • Who pays to clean up my flooded unit?
Your condominium is your home. It's also part of a business: the business of running the association. As an owner, you are a member of the [business] association. You vote. You pay assessments to cover common expenses. When you buy your first condominium, your experience will be filled with these kinds of questions. When you buy subsequent condominiums, you know exactly what to look for in governing documents, based on your first condominium living experience.

If you're new at condominium ownership, be aware that your governing documents are filled with answers to these and other kinds of questions, too.

It will be easier to read your governing documents if you have a background in business, or acknowledge that the association is a business.