Becker Boards Summit, LLC v. Summit at Copper Square Condominium Association – 2018 WL 6695279 ( 2018 Ariz.)

Issues:  The court in this case addressed two important issues:

  1. Can a Developer, before turnover, amend a Declaration to convert Common Element to Limited Common Element for the benefit of a Developer Unit?
  2. Can Developer contracts entered into before turnover be voided after turnover?

Continue Reading Declarant Contracts, Including Easements, can be Voided

IMPRESSION: Unit owners who initiate litigation over common elements do not necessarily recoup attorney fees from the association—even when their lawsuit is successful, and benefits the association as a whole.

DETAILS: A shared sewer system in Adams County, Wisconsin, was the focus of a recent dispute between the Sunset Condominiums at Northern Bay Owners Association (“Sunset Condo Assoc.”), and a unit owner of the Sunset Condominiums. Larson v. Castle at the Bay, LLC, 2018 WI App 71, 384 Wis.2d 633, 2018 WL 5307100.  Prior to 2013, the area’s local sewage system was mutually utilized by neighboring developments Timber Shores and Castle at the Bay—despite being considered a common element of Sunset Condominiums.  In 2013, Castle at the Bay declared partial ownership of the sewer system, and proceeded to impose a usage fee upon Sunset Condo Assoc. Rather than respond by threatening litigation, the Sunset Condo Assoc. chose a two-tiered amicable and less expensive approach: (1) agree to shared ownership of the sewer system; and (2) consent to Castle at the Bay’s obligatory usage fees.  Continue Reading Stuck with the Tab: Initiating Suit Over “Common Elements” Without Association Approval can Lead to Unit Owners Covering Unexpected Attorney Fees

Water leaked through a bedroom ceiling in a downstairs condominium unit causing a small amount of damage and a significant amount of inconvenience for the owner. Approximately one year earlier, a similar event took place as a result of a frozen condensate line in the upstairs unit owner’s air conditioner, which caused water to back up and drip down through the floor into a common area between the floors and then through the ceiling of the lower unit, causing some of the ceiling drywall to fall. When part of the ceiling fell a second time, the association installed a drip pan that would automatically shut off the air conditioner if the pan filled. The total cost was less than $300. When the association sought to recover the $300 from the upstairs unit owner, he denied liability and claimed that the problem did not arise from his air conditioner, but from the duct work that ran between the floor of the upper unit and the ceiling of the lower unit, and that responsibility for the problem fell on the association. Continue Reading Association Successfully Recovers From Unit Owner Who Refused to Fix Leaking Air Conditioner

In Wisconsin condominium associations are required to insure all of the property (other than the personal property) of the unit owners. (See, Sections 703.17(1) and 703.02(14) Wis. Stat).  Many unit owners worry (needlessly I would contend) that their neighbors have improved their unit more than they have and then argue that they don’t want to pay the insurance for those improvements.  Ignoring for the moment that those improvements also likely increase the value of their neighbors unit and therefore increase the value of their unit, which they are more than happy to accept, this argument simply misses how insurance companies actually insure condominiums in Wisconsin.  The law requires all of the property to be insured.  The law requires that the insurance be paid as a common expense.  (Section 703.17(1) Wis. Stat).  Accordingly, arguing over who has to insure what, considering the clear language of the statute, wastes both the time and resources of an association.  However, there is something a board of directors can do to increase the insurance it provides unit owners without any material cost to the association.  To adequately explain where these savings can be obtained, I first need to explain how insurance companies currently charge premiums and pay condominium claims in Wisconsin. Continue Reading Free Money from your Association Insurer

You may have read in the most recent CAI Law Reporter that an Association in Maryland was not authorized to suspend use privileges, absent such authority existing in the condominium declaration. Elvaton Towne Condominium Regime II, Inc. v. Rose, No. 33, Sept. Term 2016 (Md. Jun. 23, 2017). The basic facts of the case are the usual problem, a unit owner stops paying assessments for one reason or another and the association then notified the unit owner that their rights to use the pool were suspended until they were again current in their assessment payments. In the Elvaton case, the Maryland court reasoned that restricting the right to use the common element amounted to an unauthorized taking of the unit owners property, which the Association was not authorized to do absent some specific authority. The court held that the act provides that, except as provided in the declaration, the common elements are for the enjoyment of all unit owners and accordingly any restriction must be in a specific provision of the declaration.

Continue Reading Assess the Situation: What is a Considered a “Common Element?”