Yesterday I shared a story from a reader about the special assessment at her condo community in Mission Valley, and asked for your stories. Here’s one from reader SM, who owns and rents out a condo in a complex called Woodlands West II in La Jolla.

SM said she had to pay $2,400 for balcony repairs in April. And now more costs are coming:

Then, the roofs have had to be redone – an additional $2500 with virtually no warning, and now we are being told that we will have to pay an additional close to $1500 for the roofs because some of them were not done properly last time and additional damage has been found on some [of] them. The HOA is also raising the monthly dues to $280.

SM described some of the challenges HOAs face now, especially in light of economic conditions that make borrowing money to pay one-time special assessments very difficult:

I can manage these fees now (with difficulty) because I am in a very different situation than when I bought my condo. I rent it out now (and do not pass on any of these increases to my tenants because they are wonderful), but were I still a single parent teacher I would probably have had to borrow massively (not that it is possible to borrow now unless at unbearable interest rates) to avoid selling it. I am so aware of my friends who live in the same complex, some of whom bought at the height of the market and will be absolutely topped out.

Today I asked why the HOA is not going after the prior roofing contractor – or why the heck it is costing so much for a few of the roofs to need additional repairs. I love my condo, and the HOA works very hard to keep the complex in excellent condition, but it is difficult for everyone to keep up right now. So, I’m not upset at the HOA, it is just that condo buyers really need to be warned (as I was by my excellent realtor and my mortgage broker when I bought) to put money aside for emergencies, or have a back up plan! I anticipate greater costs in the future because the condos are aging and infrastructure fails with age.

If you have HOA stories to share, send me an e-mail at


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