A condo-wide A/C unit went down, and it gave residents a window unit while awaiting repairs. Should residents also get reimbursed for the cost of electricity?
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Air conditioning is included in our condo’s monthly maintenance fees. The chiller that cools the entire building stopped working on July 20, and we are still awaiting replacement/repair, which has been postponed twice thus far.
We were provided with portable A/C units. However, running these portable units has drastically increased my electricity bill. There has been no mention of a temporary reduction in maintenance for the time the central A/C has not been provided. Am I within my legal rights to seek reimbursement for the increase in my utility bill? – Margaret
Answer: Like all community associations, your condominium association is governed by a set of agreements and other documents. The wording in these documents will clarify what your association must provide its members.
That said, a community association is more of an “us” than a “them.” By this, I mean that your association and all the money it has to spend on repairs, maintenance, and operations comes from you and your neighbors.
Unfortunately, in today’s climate of supply chain shortages and changing regulations regarding air conditioners, it is common to experience long delays in replacing equipment.
Your association took a good step in getting each affected unit owner portable A/C units to keep them cool in this brutally hot summer. These repairs will likely dig deeply into your association’s savings, called “reserves,” and depending on how much has been saved, the board of directors may need to levy a special assessment.
Special assessments occur when a community association’s reserves are insufficient to pay for an unplanned repair. Each owner in the community will need to pay a portion of this shortfall in addition to their regular maintenance dues.
In your situation, even if you and your neighbors successfully got your community to pay your increased utility bill, the funds would have to come from either reserves or a special assessment, both of which are essentially your own pocket.
Hopefully, your community planned ahead and has sufficient reserves to cover these additional costs, but many do not.
Because things sometimes break and the unexpected happens, it is essential for community associations and individual homeowners to save money for the proverbial rainy day.
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