This case involved a dispute between a homeowner (Owner) and her homeowners association (Association) over who was responsible for the maintenance of a HOA drainage pipe located under Owners townhouse that leaked and caused flooding and property damage. Association obtained summary judgment in the trial court on the grounds that it had no responsibility for maintenance of the subject HOA drainage pipe because it did not service more than one unit (Owners unit). Owner disputed Associations contention regarding the number of units that were serviced by the subject drainage pipe and appealed the summary judgment granted by the trial court.
On review, the appellate court stated that, just because a particular fixture, item, or space is physically connected to, accessible from, or associated with a single unit is not dispositive of the issue of whether or not that fixture, item, or space is a common element within the homeowners association. The court noted that the designation of common areas must be tailored to conform to the physical layout of the premises, and where a particular fixture, item, or space provides a common benefit to more than one unit, it may be deemed to service more than its physically appurtenant unit and thus may properly be classified as a common element for which the governing board or association is responsible.
The appellate court reversed the trial courts judgment after finding that an engineer retained by Owner had opined that the subject pipes served more than Owners unit, thereby creating an issue that precluded the granting of a summary judgment by the trial court. The appellate court ruled that Owner should have been afforded an opportunity to demonstrate at trial that, in view of the physical layout of the property, the pipes in question were common area that should have been maintained by Association.
See case decision: McDonald_v._Whitney_Highland_Homeowners’_Ass’n_Inc.