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CCOC Decision Summary

Alapati v. Meadow Ridge Villas Condominium Ass’n. #20-15 (April 15, 2016) (Panel: Stevens, Brandes, Zajic)

The unit owner complained that his condominium had wrongly billed him for the costs to repair other units damaged by a water leak from his unit. He claimed that the leak was from a pipe serving other units as well as his own and was therefore a common element which was the Condo’s duty to maintain.

Under Section 11-114(g) of the Maryland Condominium Act, a condominium can bill the owner of the unit from which the damage to the units or the condo originates the first $5000 of any repairs not covered by the master insurance deductible. The Condo’s documents, as is common in most condominiums, also stated that any part of a utility serving only one unit is that unit owner’s duty to maintain, even if the part involved is located in the common elements, as it was here. The documents did not specifically include the word “plumbing” or “water pipe” in its definition. The Condo here billed the complainant $5000 to repair the water damage.

At the hearing, the Condo’s plumber stated that the water leak was not from a common pipe, or from a junction between a common pipe and the complainant’s pipe, but from a junction between two pipes, both of which served only the complainant’s unit. The unit owner offered no evidence to show that either of the two pipes served other units instead of only his unit.

Although the governing documents did not specifically include the word “pipe” or “plumbing” the panel held that the board of directors had the right to interpret the language and that a reasonable interpretation by the board was entitled to deference from the CCOC, citing Tackney v. United States Naval Academy Alumni Ass’n., 408 Md. 700 (2009).

The panel upheld the Condo and dismissed the complaint.

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