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What to consider when looking to buy a condo

By Robert Meisner

Q: I am interested in buying an upscale condominium in Birmingham, but condos are entirely new to me. What is important to keep in mind as I search around?

A: Each condominium project has to be evaluated on its own merits. Anyone buying a condominium must find out first whether the developer of the condominium has a good track record for developing and building condominiums. If there is a history of litigation, that may be a red flag.

There are also other factors that, of course, must be considered in purchasing a condominium, including the square footage cost, the amenities, your rights under the condominium documents, the monthly assessment that is planned to be charged, whether reserves are adequately funded, whether the association is going to be properly managed professionally and by whom, etc.

Whether the price tag is in the hundreds of thousands or millions, all of the necessary preconditions to making an informed decision to purchase must be examined carefully, so you would benefit from the advice of experienced legal counsel.

Q: Our condo association has a no-lease policy. A number of people have moved in claiming they are relatives of an owner, but we have no reason to believe that is true. We are concerned that they are violating our policy. What can we do?

A: First, consult with your community association attorney to ensure that your documents are clear regarding the no-lease policy and how non-co-owner occupants are addressed. You will have to ensure you do not run afoul of federal fair housing laws which protect against discrimination on the basis of family status.

And keep in mind that the definition of a family has expanded over the years and is not set in stone. A judge may reasonably find that occupants constitute a family even if certain traditionally recognized relationships such as marriage and consanguinity do not exist.

You do have a right to determine whether the person is living at the condominium as part of the family of the co-owner. You have every reason to inquire if you suspect that the condominium is being leased out, assuming your documents prohibit it. But again, exactly how to go about that should be addressed on a case-by-case basis by your community association attorney.

Regarding what you can do personally, be sure to keep an eye on leasing websites such as Craigslist, Airbnb, etc. for evidence that the unit is being leased out.

This article first appeared in Hometown Life on August 5, 2019. Access the article here.