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Condo Improvements Require Vote, but What If Paid For By Only Those Who Want It?

Per our condo Declaration of Trust (and Mass. General Law), “improvements” to our condo require a 75% vote of unit owners for the expense to be paid for by everyone. Over 50%, and it’s paid for by those people voting affirmatively. However, we have a unique situation, one which the law may never have encountered:

The trustees desperately want to install central air conditioning in the building (only steam heat exists now). The condo attorney has stated that the addition of central air conditioning to the building (requiring a large “cooling tower” on the common area on the roof) is considered a “capital addition” and is thus an improvement requiring a vote.

Knowing that they can never achieve 75% (or even 50%, because this is a very unpopular position), the trustees have changed tactics: Now, they want to install a few smaller cooling units on the roof (also on the common area), which would service only those who want the a/c (about 20% of the condo), and the cost would be borne exclusively by them. So there would be no common expense involved.

Can this be done without a vote by the unit owners? Just like the option what would provide a/c to the entire building, it does use common area space (for the rooftop units, the electrical and plumbing infrastructure, and the duct work through the common ceilings, walls, and floors), but it would not be a common expense.

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