Reserve Studies - The Complete Guide is 436 pages explaining the concepts and process for making a reserve study. For more information and to order, click here.



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State of Delaware

The state of Delaware has adopted Title 25, Chapter 81 as the Delaware Uniform Common Interest ownership Act.  Subchapter III - Managment of the Common Interest Community, imposes certain requirements regarding reserves.

Section 81-307 states that the association, through its executive board, is responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of the common elements.

Section 81-315 - Assessments for Common Expenses, states

(a)(1) Until the association is validly established pursuant to this chapter and makes a common expense assessment, the declarant shall pay all common expenses together, in the case of a condominium or cooperative, with all sums necessary to fully fund the repair and replacement reserve until the association makes its first assessment.

(2) After an assessment has been made by the association, assessments must be made at least annually, based on a budget adopted at least annually by the association. In the case of a condominium or cooperative, the budget shall include as a line item a payment into the repair and replacement reserve sufficient to achieve the level of funding noted in the reserve study, or maintain said reserve at such level. The minimum percentage of the annual budget of a condominium or cooperative that must be assigned to the repair and replacement reserve will depend upon how many of the following components and systems are to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the executive board: (i) 1 or more hallways, (ii) 1 or more stairwells, (iii) 1 or more management or administrative offices, (iv) 1 or more roofs, (v) 1 or more windows, (vi) 1 or more exterior walls, (vii) 1 or more elevators, (viii) 1 or more HVAC systems, (ix) 1 or more swimming pools, (x) 1 or more exercise facilities, (xi) 1 or more clubhouses, (xii) 1 or more parking garages (but not including surface parking lots), (xiii) 1 or more masonry bridges used by motor vehicles, (xiv) 1 or more bulkheads, and (xv) 1 or more docks. In the event that the executive board is responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of 4 or more of the above-described systems or components, the minimum percentage of the annual budget that must be assigned to the repair and replacement reserve is 15%; if the responsibility extends to only 3 of the above-described systems and components, the minimum percentage is 10%; and if the responsibility extends to only 2 or fewer of the above-described systems and components, the minimum percentage is 5%. In the event that the association's accountant certifies that the funds in the repair and replacement reserve are in excess of the sum required to constitute a fully funded repair and replacement reserve, the executive board shall refund or credit the surplus of the excess sum to the unit owners. In the event that the association does not have a current reserve study as required by this chapter, the minimum percentages of the association's budget to be assigned to the repair and replacement reserve shall be the percentages prescribed in this paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

Section 81-318 - Association records, states that "The association shall maintain the following records in written form or in another form capable of conversion into written form within a reasonable time: (1) Detailed records of receipts and expenditures affecting the operation and administration of the association and other appropriate accounting records, including those for the repair and replacement reserve."

Section 81-324 states that "The executive board shall, at least annually, prepare a proposed budget for the common interest community. In a condominium or cooperative, the proposed budget shall include a line item for any required funding of a repair and replacement reserve. Within 30 days after adoption of any proposed budget after the period of declarant control, the executive board shall provide to all unit owners a summary of the budget, including any reserves and a statement of the basis on which any reserves are calculated and funded."

Common industry practice is that homeowners associations should perform periodic reserve studies as a prudent business practice.  Directors of associations are generally held to a “prudent businessman” rule in determining whether or not they have met the fiduciary duty of their position for the association.  A prudent businessman would establish a capital replacement budget (reserve study) to make sure he is generating enough revenues (reserve assessments) to provide for major repairs and replacements.

There is little discussion about whether an association should perform a reserve study.  The only significant areas of discussion revolve around how frequently a reserve study should be performed, and if there should be any minimum funding requirements.  Most states that have reserve study statutes require physical site inspections on 3 or 5 year cycles.  We believe that 5 years is too long.  3 years may be too long if significant reserve expenditures are being made during the subject time period.  However, the association should perform an update without site inspection every year as part of the annual budget process.


Additional State Reserve Study Laws