Dear Michael: I purchased a Condo in February and came to know about a special assessment due a month after I moved in. The special assessment was mentioned in the HOA meeting minutes during the escrow process. Contrary to the minutes the management company declared that there were no pending special assessments. We have now closed escrow and come to find out that a special assessment cost was decided one day prior to the close of escrow. The HOA/Management Company now wants me to pay this special assessment due. What can I do in this case? I have already filed a case in small claims court. Also, how do you suggest I prepare for the court?
Answer: You should never have assumed that the seller had paid the assessment. Why did you not ask for proof during the escrow period? If your seller would have paid it, it would have shown on your escrow closing statement as a credit to you and then you would have paid it. Was there a real estate agent involved on your side of the transaction? If there was, how come she/he did not further investigate the special assessment? The HOA is not at fault. They may not have known about the special assessment at the time. You will need to prove that the seller knew of the assessment and did not disclose. The meeting minutes is about dialogue and decisions made during a board meeting? The management Co. is not always present and informed of discussions taking place at these meetings. You had the minutes in your possession. They clearly stated that there was an assessment coming up. Your argument is with the seller for not disclosing the special assessment. If small claims court is your alternative make sure you bring all your disclosures from seller, your notes (if any) and all documents pertaining to the sale. These will serve as proof that the seller was withholding material facts affecting the property. You can also try and settle on an amount with the seller.
Dear Michael: My girlfriend and I recently bought a house together. Six months later she decided she wants out. Friends have recommended a quit claim deed as a solution. Will this work or is there is a better way?
Answer: A quitclaim deed transfers any interest you may have in a property to someone else. In your case, your girlfriend can quit claim her interest in the property to you. However, if she quitclaims the house to you, it does not relieve her of her responsibility to the mortgage note and will put her in a really tricky position down the line. She will owe on the mortgage (and have her credit tied up with it), but not own any part of the property. She will lose any leverage she has in making sure you are making the mortgage payments on time. If you don’t her credit will get wrecked. Can you afford to refinance the mortgage and make the payments with your name on title as the sole proprietor? If yes, this would be the method to get her name off of the loan. If no, then she is going to have to live with the consequences of her poor decision to buy this house with you without thinking through the long-term ramifications of her decision. It is best to consult with a real estate attorney about your options and how is the best way to proceed.
Michael Kayem is a Realtor with Re/max Execs serving Culver City and the Westside since 2001. Please contact Michael with your questions at 310-390-3337 or e-mail them to him at: email@example.com