Summary

A single warranty date applies to each condominium building in a development.  Meaning that each unit does not have its own warranty date, and units in different buildings will likely have different warranty dates, unless they happen to be completed on the same date

The Facts

Village Lofts Condominium Association consisted of two buildings: A and B.  Building A was substantially completed in 2003 and Building B was substantially completed in November of 2004.  In 2014 the Association discovered various water leaks in Building A.  In June of 2015 they had also found similar leaks in Building B.  The Association repaired the leaks throughout both buildings.  In August 2015 the Association sued the developers and contractors for breach of warranty, breach of contract and negligence.  The defendants brought motions for summary judgment arguing that that the Association couldn’t bring a suit after 10 years based on the statute of repose (similar to a statute of limitations).
Continue Reading Investigate for Hidden Defects at Turnover or Pay the Price

Summary

The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit held that a subrogation waiver provision in a construction contract barred an association’s insurance company from seeking to recover from an allegedly negligent contractor.

Facts

United National Insurance Company v. Peninsula Roofing Company, Inc.:  Pelican Beach Condominium (“Association”) needed a new roof. The Board, after obtaining specifications from an engineer, entered into a contract with Peninsula Roofing (“Contractor”).  The contract was a standard form AIA contract that is widely used throughout the country.  Peninsula Roofing placed a generator in the Association’s parking garage from which the contractor ran extension lines to power its tools. The generator caught fire and caused about $3 million dollars in property damage.
Continue Reading Association Construction Contracts – What are Risks of that Waiver of Subrogation Term

Problem & Facts

The association’s detention pond overflowed causing damages to property downhill from the pond. The developer built the detention pond in 2007. The owner of the downhill property (who bought in 2012) sued the association in 2013 for damages in excess of $300,000. (Kowalski v. TOA PA V, L.P. and Traditions of Amercia at Liberty Hills Condominium Association, Pa., May 22, 2019). The owner, through expert testimony, claimed $300,000 was the cost to install an appropriate storm water management system. The association filed a third party complaint against the developer.
Continue Reading Why You Must Hire an Engineer at Turnover

Summary

An insurance company can’t sue a condominium tenant in subrogation, even if they were negligent in starting a fire.

The Facts

The Declaration required the association to “obtain and maintain a … policy of all risk property insurance” for the association.  The Declaration also required the policy to name as insureds the unit owners and their bank mortgage holders (Mortgagees) and that “any insurance maintained by the association shall contain [a] ‘waiver of subrogation’ as to the Units and Mortgagees.”  Finally, the Declaration also prohibited the owners from obtaining fire insurance and required all occupants and tenants to comply with the Declaration.

One of the unit owners leased its commercial unit to the tenants (Defendant). The lease did not specify who would carry fire insurance. 
Continue Reading Insurance Subrogation – Not Against A Condominium Tenant

In a recent case out of North Carolina, Rash v. Waterway Landing Homeowners Association, Inc. 801 S.E.2d 375 (2017), a unit owner in a condominium complex sued the Association for negligence after she slipped and fell on a moldy wooden walkway in the complex after a night of rain.  The unit owner stated that she had no knowledge that it had rained or of the slippery condition of the walkway when it was wet.  She also admitted that she did not look down at the walkway as she was walking.  As the unit owner admitted that she did not look down at the walkway, the trial court found she did not exercise reasonable/ordinary care or a “common sense duty” and was contributory negligent, granting summary judgment in favor of the Association.

The appellate court reversed, ruling that there was a “genuine issue of material fact as to whether the [unit owner] exercised ordinary care to protect herself from injury.”
Continue Reading Negligence and the Association

Condominium associations and homeowner associations are sued every day. These suits can arise based on construction claims, contract claims, negligence claims and various alleged statutory violations – We all know about the Fair House Act!  Or the Wisconsin (or whatever state you are in) Consumer Act!  Associations seem to attract people who feel that they are entitled to something because they now live in an association.  Of course they are entitled to what the law and documents allow them, but for some that never seems to be enough.  Often these types of owners or residents make up stuff or read the internet until they find some article or statement that supports their point of view and then cite it as fact. Yes, we have all dealt with those people. However, despite the validity (or lack of validity) of any lawsuit, there are some basic steps that every association should follow once served or notified of a suit.
Continue Reading Sued! What Should Our Wisconsin Condominium or Homeowners Association Do NOW?