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Reluctance to fund maintenance on older condos is a serious problem

Codes and Standards

Reluctance to fund maintenance on older condos is a serious problem

Owner associations defer needed work, putting properties at risk.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | July 13, 2021

The condominium form of ownership has been a popular way for many to enter the ranks of homeownership, but the concept is under strain.

As the buildings age, owners’ associations that typically do not have expertise in building maintenance, tend to not plan or plan inadequately for critical maintenance needs. This may have been the case with the recent collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Fla.

Association boards often focused on keeping regular assessments low, and only prioritize maintenance that produces visible, immediate outcomes, according to a 2020 report by the Foundation for Community Association Research. This results in deferring necessary but less prominent repair projects.

As a result, some economists say that it was a mistake for governments to encourage condos and related forms of ownership such as housing co-ops and homeowner associations. The issue of deferred maintenance has even prompted some condo buildings to be “de-converted” to rental properties in recent years.

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