State Law Forces Fire Displaced Residents to Pay Condo Fees

 By Matt Blanchette

 mblanchette@abc6.com

 @mattblanchette

Rhode Island law dictates that even though the condo that burned down at the Westgate complex in Warwick no longer exists, owners must still pay their condo fees., which cost anywhere from 200–300 dollars a month.
What remains of the Westgate condo building C after a massive fire two weeks ago is still surrounded by a fence.

The law states that those fees are to be paid by the owner of each individual unit of a complex, in this case 118 spread over three buildings.

The only way for the displaced owners to avoid paying their fees is to ask for help from owners in the other two buildings.

“It would be up to the remaining condominium owners to absorb the fees of the 38 owners who lost their property and we are not thinking that is terribly realistic,” Patti Doyle, a spokeswoman for Churchill and Banks, the management company that runs Westgate, said.

She says the condo association would have to vote to absorb those fees, but there is no vote scheduled at this time.

Rachel Berman lives in the building next door and isn’t sure how that vote would go if there is one.

“There is a bunch of different personalities that live in this complex. I am sure some people would not mind it, and I am sure some people would say no way,” Berman said.

Those fees however could come down some.

“We are seeing if there are savings to be garnered by the destruction of one of those buildings that now does not have heating expenses, water, sewer and other expenses,” Doyle said.

One condo owner told ABC 6 News many owners just aren’t going to pay the fees even though they are required. to. And that when the building is rebuilt they aren’t moving back. They are going to sell.

In the meantime people want to know when they can start combing the debris for their belongings.

Doyle says right now the site is under control of Liberty Mutual Insurance and authorities and owners will have to wait until a report comes out to access the site. She estimates within two weeks. The state and city fire marshalls are meeting tomorrow to discuss what may have caused the fire.

The management company also says they plan to rebuild as soon as possible and that process could take about one year.