(Recap) A familiar scene unfolds at many association meetings. Disgruntled unit owners come to the meeting, complaining of leaks, roof problems, mold and myriad of other issues. Some owners demand that the building and the leaks be completely repaired immediately. Others say that the association cannot afford to do significant repairs, and that special assessments will bankrupt them. Others say that the developer should be held responsible to fix these problems. The developer no longer returns the association’s phone calls, emails or faxes, and despite the Board’s invitation, has chosen not to attend a meeting in months. Board members are rightfully frustrated and confused about how to best fulfill their duties to the Association and the owners. Advice pours in from all sides. Seemingly conflicting information is received by different members of the Board. The Board is bombarded with questions and “facts” from owners about how to proceed. Below are some helpful responses to some of the most common of those “facts”:
“We can’t afford a lawsuit.”
Any lawsuit is going to cost the Association money, but there are some law firms that offer to work on a contingency basis. Rather than paying a law firm an hourly rate as the case goes on, the law firm takes a percentage of the recovery at the end of the case. Thus, the association pays no legal fees while the case is ongoing, and only pays if the law firm is able to collect money. There are often other costs associated with litigation, including experts and deposition transcript fees, copies, etc., but not having to pay legal fees until the end of the case allows the association to litigate a complex transition lawsuit and maintain its financial health.