Nevertheless, we are fortunate to have owners who are enthusiastic about improving certain aspects of the building. So, the question is: Can the board accept voluntary contributions of money and/or labor from willing owners to accomplish projects for which there is no money in the budget, such as re-painting the fitness room and replacing a shabby piece of lawn around the front entrance to the building, without creating a second class of owners and/or liability issues?
— Helpful in Hanover
“Usually, the question of volunteer labor comes up in the context of an owner who doesn’t have sufficient funds for his dues and wants to contribute in-kind labor. States that have adopted
UCIOA [the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act] (and, no doubt, states that have not), require that assessments be assessed in accordance with the percentage ownership of each owner. You cannot substitute volunteer work for the money that is required to run the condominium common areas and facilities.
“In my experience, this issue comes up more often with associations who are self-managed as opposed to those that have professional management. Self-managed associations often have committees who actually do work that would cost dollars if that work was being done by a professional manager.
“That said, the board can accept voluntary contributions of money and donations of labor from owners who wish to contribute over and above the dues requirement. Perhaps in some minds this will create a second and ‘lower’ class of owners for those owners who don’t both pay their dues and contribute additional money or time but, in my opinion, that is not a legal issue and don’t believe it’s a reason not to accept truly ‘voluntary’ donations and labor.
“Be careful, however, that you aren’t accepting voluntary labor in cases where the persons performing that labor are supposed to be licensed or insured. Also, the association’s insurance agent should be aware that association members are performing voluntary labor so that there are no questions about whether or not someone might be covered under the association’s policy or whether workers’ compensation is an issue.
“You should also be aware that, as with a lot of situations involving volunteers, volunteers can get jaded, asking ‘why are we doing all the work when nobody else is’?”