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Knowing Your Legal Rights As A Condo Owner In Washington, DC

When it comes to owning a condo in Washington, DC, there are many legal rights and obligations the owner should be aware of. Unlike a traditional home sale where you’re just dealing with the seller of the property and their real estate agent, buying a condo requires a few extra parties that need to be dealt with, including the association and property management companies.

When embarking on the condo buying process, it is important to know your rights as a new condo owner, including what is owed to you at the time of purchase and what measures you are legally entitled to take if your Washington, DC condo is not in the good condition you expect it to be in.

Given the recent boom in condo sales in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, its easy to understand that Maryland has a number of laws designed to protect the buyer. Many of these laws came about as a result of a case called MRA Property Management v. Armstrong, which was a case in which a number of buyers alleged that a property management company failed to disclose major defects in its building. The management company had failed to disclose these defects in the resale package, which is presented to condo buyers when they are considering buying a unit that is older.

As a result of the case, new condo owners are now able to sue developers if the condo isn’t in good condition, despite not being the units’ actual sellers. New condo buyers are also eligible to receive a public offering statement, which should contain the additions and improvements made by the developer.

“Developers will need to be very careful in making representations about residential homes and condominiums in which they are involved, including on developer websites and in other advertising, public offering statements, sales contracts and other materials provided to consumers,” said Roger Winston, a real estate attorney with the law firm of Ballard Spahr in the District, to The Washington Post.

Word to the Wise Condo Buyer

One of the most important takeaways from the MRA Property Management case and other similar cases is that condo buyers need to be mindful of the facts presented to them about a particular property. While Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs are working to put laws in place to protect against such omissions of valuable information, buyers are their own first line of defense.

Obviously the first measure to take is to read each and every document presented to you by the association thoroughly. Beyond educating yourself on the documents, it might be wise to head over to the development and speak with some of the current unit owners about the building and association services. In some cases, this may be the only way to get a straight answer as to the true state of the condo building.

As always, your real estate agent is a valuable resource as well. Have a question for us? Ask us

If you are looking for a condo in Washington, DC area, let me be your advocate in the process. I’d love to help you navigate this market.