The sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Tower South Condominium in Surfside, Florida has focused attention on the need for all condominiums to determine and fund the long-term needs for repair and replacement of structural common components such as roofs, foundations, and walls, as well as the common plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.
A prudent condo board should periodically obtain information regarding the estimated remaining life of each common property component and the estimated cost for future repair and replacement. Known as a “reserve study”, this evaluation should be performed by an independent construction professional. Based on the future estimated repair costs, the board should accumulate “reserve funds” as part of the annual owner assessment to pay for repairs when needed.
Recent changes in Maryland law now require all condos, housing cooperatives and homeowner associations in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County to obtain a reserve study every 5 years and to include funds for recommended repairs in the annual association budget. Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, bordering Washington D.C., are the 2 most populous Maryland counties with nearly 2 million total residents.
A reserve study to determine the funding needed for future major repairs and replacement of common property in condominiums, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives in Prince George’s County, Maryland will now be required by a new Maryland law, effective October 1, 2020.
The replacement reserve study must be prepared by a qualified professional and identify each structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing component of the common property and any other components that are the responsibility of the condo, HOA or coop to repair and replace. It must also state the normal useful life and estimated remaining useful life of each component; state the estimated cost of repair or replacement; and state the estimated annual reserve amount necessary to accomplish any future repair or replacement.
Condominium insurance, replacement reserves and dispute resolution procedures were among the condominium and homeowners association topics which were considered during the 2019 Maryland legislative session. However, virtually no new laws affecting community governance were enacted this year.
Looking ahead to 2020, legislation concerning insurance, reserves and dispute resolution is likely to introduced again.
Condominium Insurance Deductibles
Where damage to condominium units and common elements is caused by fire, water or other perils covered by the master property damage insurance, the Maryland Condominium Act requires a unit owner to pay up to the first $5,000 of repair expenses when the cause of the damage originates in that owner’s condominium unit. While some condos choose a higher deductible, others can only obtain insurance with a deductible of $10,000 or more. This leaves the condominium association responsible for repair expenses between $5,000 and the amount covered by insurance. Continue reading →