Making Special Assessments Easier to Swallow A Tough Sell

Unexpected repairs are part of owning a home. For owners of single-family houses, the process is simple: Something needs fixing or replacing, and you call a contractor and get the work done. You may not be happy about it, but you accept it as a simple necessity—part and parcel of being a homeowner.

Like any other home or building, condo and co-op developments need to deal with unexpected repairs, as well as large-scale projects that come up from time to time. So owners and shareholders should understand that extra revenue is going to be needed once in a while, right?

Sounds nice, but as any board or management team can tell you, it doesn't always work that way. When a need for a special assessment comes up, residents can be resistant.

"Everyone can budget for a monthly maintenance fee because they know exactly what it is," says Mary Ann Hallenborg of Hein Associates PA in Cherry Hill. "A special assessment is a bit of a wild card because A, you don't know how much they're going to be and B, you don't know if it?s going to be imposed on you in one lump sum or installment-payment fashion."

So it's important to prepare shareholders for the need of special assessments, and run the process with as little conflict as possible.


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  • I am on the Board and have been for years. We have 85 townhouse units built in 1976. We are in the final stages of residing, reroofing was done first. These projects have been costly but we have to do it and our main goal was to secure our buildings before moving on to outside landscaping and parkin lot replacement. Our issue and why we have to assess is because we have Owners not paying their condo fees and not reporting water issues or mold issues. It would be nice if we could just assess the lazy ones but we can`t. Now our reserve fund has suffered and we need to assess.