Can a Condo Association Force an Owner to Sell in Massachusetts?

Living in a condo may not be as common as owner-occupied houses, but over five million American households call a condo home. A condominium is a collection of attached properties where each owner owns their unit, part of the land that it sits on, and a share of the condo’s amenities.

A condo is “governed” by its association – every owner is a part of the association – which looks after the policies and manages the fees paid by the owners for maintenance, insurance, and so on.

While condo associations are designed to keep the property in good condition for all condo owners, there can be situations in which the other condo owners take against one or a small group of owners in the complex.

Can a condo association force an owner to sell?

Condo associations cannot legally force an owner to sell their condo, but they can take legal action in extreme cases. If a condo association believes one owner’s behavior is detrimentally affecting the community, they can ask the courts to intervene.

Legal action is always a last resort when all efforts of mediation have failed. Even when the case is heard it is extremely rare for the courts to force someone to sell their home. The judge would have to be absolutely certain there was no other way for a solution to be found before they made such an order.

Condo associations, with homeowners’ associations, can refuse to allow a potential buyer or tenant to have a unit. In this case, they may leave themselves open to a charge of discrimination and find themselves taken to court.

In most cases, all your condo association can do if you violate their terms is issue you with fines.

Can a condo association force me to sell as part of a bulk sale?

Most condo associations have some conditions for bulk sales. Bulk sales are where the majority of condo owners agree to sell their homes all at once – this most commonly happens when there is an investor interested in purchasing the building or land the building is on.

In this case, 75-90% of owners must vote to sell their condos. In this case, you will be forced to sell. If there are 10 condos and you are the only owner that doesn’t want to sell, you will have no choice.

The good news is that this is rare and will only happen in circumstances where the investor is offering such good money that the other owners can’t refuse, or where the conditions in the condo have deteriorated and you collectively do not have the income to put things right. It is never easy to leave a home, but if conditions have deteriorated, it will be for the best.

How do I know what my condo association’s rules are?

When you buy a unit the selling agent must give you a set of documents that explain the covenants, conditions, and restrictions for the condo (called CC&Rs).

There may be restrictions on parking, pets, what you put on your balconies, and similar – some condo associations are more strict here than others. All associations have to abide by federal, state, and local laws which will stipulate what they can and cannot put in their CC&Rs.

Should an owner ignore the CC&Rs in any way the association is entitled to issue a fine, deny access to onsite facilities, and even take the owner to court.

Can my condo association force me to pay for things I don’t want?

Condo associations are legal entities and can make sure fees are paid on time and that owners don’t infringe the CC&Rs. If your condo association elects to pay for a service that ultimately benefits you, even if you’d rather do it yourself or choose a cheaper service, there’s usually little you can do to dodge paying their fees.

What happens if I don’t pay a fine issued by my condo association?

The consequences of ignoring fines issued by your condo association can be severe – if you fail to pay a fine it will likely come with late fees, and your condo association may even be able to put a lien against your home, which prevents you from selling your property. If you are issued a fine you don’t agree with, appeal it and try to get it reduced, but don’t ignore it completely without an attorney’s input.

I don’t get along with my condo association, what can I do?

If you don’t agree with your condo association on their rules, you really only have a few options:

  1. Talk to them about the rules you disagree with and see if you can get them to change them – suggest a compromise
  2. Attend the meetings – if you’re involved in your condo association you’re much more likely to get your voice heard and the other owners will see you as a person who they can talk to, rather than a point of conflict
  3. Reach out to other condo owners you think may be more sympathetic to your opinion and see if other owners are also disgruntled with some of the rules or choices being made by your condo association
  4. Get an attorney involved – doing things by the book and having legal counsel will only help
  5. Consider moving – unfortunately, if you are one of only 1-2 disgruntled condo owners, up against 6+ other owners, you’re going to struggle to get things seen your way. While a condo association can offer many benefits, it is essentially like having roommates – if you can’t live with them, well… you can’t live with them. The good news is that there will be someone out there who will love their rules, so you can sell your condo and move on to another building or home where you can have everything the way you want it.

The reality is, while it can be tempting to want to fight and make your condo associations’ lives as difficult as they’ve made yours, you’ll have to deal with constant stress right outside your front door. If you believe no solution can be reached, it’s often best to cut your losses and move on to somewhere you can get on with your life.

If you’re struggling to live with your condo association and you don’t think a resolution may be reached, it may be time to sell. We can help you get out of a difficult situation as soon as possible by purchasing your condo, whatever the condition, for cash. We charge no fees and are fast to close. Contact us today for a free cash offer and a no-fuss sale.

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