I want to buy a unit in a condo but I know there is a lawsuit against the association pending.
I am willing to pay the "assessed" fees but don't want the exposure if the plaintiff wins the lawsuit.
Does the law require me to be a member or can I just pay the monthly dues?
I want to insulate myself from liability for something I was not involved in.
You will likely become a member of the association when you purchase the condo, unless there was some sort of "opt out' provision (highly unlikely) in the original declarations, covenants, conditions and restrictions (as they are commonly referred to). While I don't believe any member is personally liable in most suits against property owners associations (unless the member's conduct gave rise to the suit), the association is liable and can raise dues, etc. to satisfy any judgment or pay any settlement. Most associations are adequately ensured to cover the types of lawsuits generally brought against associations, but you need to find out more about the particular lawsuit. I would definitely consult with an attorney prior to purchasing, but the suit may not be a deal-breaker for you.
3 lawyers agree
Texas laws require you get full notice and chance to read all the condo association obligations, rules and even accounting/insurance information before you buy the unit. You will be require to sign a document swearing you got the Notice of required membership before you close your purchase. However, you can likely find all the Rules and Condo declaration online at the association office to read over. Condominiums, when land is designated as such, have association membership as part of the unit ownership and the they are not divisible, but part of each other. However, some town homes, don't have those rules if they are platted that way when developed, but most still do.
ALL condominiums under the Texas Condominium Act do have associations or common area ownership and obligations. The "association" membership is how they enforce your obligations for the building, common areas, etc., but some just go way too far and operate as little empires. Be careful!!
You first need an experienced real estate person and then also a lawyer even just for a cursory review if you don't understand all your rights and obligations. HOWEVER, like myself, there a number of attorneys that ALSO operate as real estate agents and can likely get their fees out of the real estate commissions the seller is paying the real estate agents with or without the added legal work you get.
Some combined Attorney/Real Estate agent even offer a part of the commission as cash back to the buyer at closing if there is not a lot of running around to locate a property involved. You need to email some double licensed folks, preferably lawyers (who also can do real estate commission sales as agents) if you want to take advantage of that solution.
Also, having sued and won against condo associations that decide to violate state laws seriously and act against some owner's interests in Court, you also need to be very careful about some of the specific associations/condo complexes or management companies out there. That all should be looked at up front before you sign anything. No one can predict the future and that there will be NO problems down the line, but it does not make a lot of sense to go shopping around with a majority of your net work asking for problems or risks.
Best wishes.... email folks this weekend for a consultation!
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