This time every year many condominium associations hold their annual meetings, so I thought it might be good to review a few things to know about condo meetings in Mexico.
Whether in Mexico or in the U.S. or Canada, condo meetings often share similar traits. First, there are owners who come very prepared and want to participate in the running of the Civil Association. Then there are those who want to complain and turn the meeting into an informal long-winded conversation instead of staying on track.
After attending hundreds of condominium annual meetings, I would like to share a few things you should know about condo meetings in Mexico:
- The administrator is the legal representative for the Civil Association, so this person has to be very professional and ethical. This person should be neutral and represent all the owners equally and fairly. The board of owners very much affects how the building is run and how the administrator deals with owners. When there is a problem with the administrator, consider this a problem of the board. Request a meeting with the board and make them accountable. Their character and attitude have everything to do with the way every owner is treated and how the building and common areas are maintained.
- The board should know Condominium law for the state and have a copy of it in English and Spanish available to all owners. The business of the Civil Association should be run under this law, period.
- The expenses of the building should be in pesos, with some exceptions perhaps for services paid for online or satellite television service if it is common. In most cases, all expenses will be in pesos, so the peso budget should be the one voted upon at the annual meeting.
- Administrators and boards should not be in the business of arbitrage or charging an exchange rate for pesos by selling dollars. Every owner can buy his/her own pesos and pay his/her fees. There should be a lower amount of dollars required to pay condo fees in 2017. Americans in particular should enjoy the benefit of the strong U.S. dollar and take advantage of it. Any board or administrator who wants to set an exchange rate or receive U.S. dollars for condo expenses should be suspect.
- It is critical that proper notice and the published agenda for condo meetings in Mexico should be followed exactly. The board should allow all owners to ask questions or conduct informal meetings in which owners can make suggestions for the agenda items. The agenda has to be followed and items not on the agenda cannot be voted upon in the formal meeting. Every owner should have a clear understanding before a vote is taken.
- Financial reports should be sent regularly to owners and always be available in the administrative office or from the administrator when requested by an owner.
- Civil Associations should be a benefit to owners and create value for the building. How a CA is run is a reflection of the character and ethics of the board and the owners. The HOA is a protection for the benefit of the real estate and the shared ownership. When the HOA is well run it is not a negative, time-consuming worry for owners. When the leadership of the board is weak or selfish, all the owners can become negative and too much time has to be spent dealing with problems.
This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices, and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his/her own due diligence and review.