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CCOC Decision Summary

#32-08, Jacobson v. Sligo Station Condominium (February 19, 2009) (Panel: Alkon, Gelfound, Vergagni)

The condominium unit owner filed a complaint with the CCOC disputing a bill she received from the Condominium for $1652 for repairs to her balcony.She also claimed the repairs were substandardThe condominium's response was that the repairs were required to satisfy a County housing code inspections violation notice and that under the bylaws, the cost of repairs was the responsibility of the unit to which the balcony was attached.

The evidence at the hearing showed that under the governing documents, the balconies were "limited common elements", and although the condominium owned the balconies, the cost of their maintenance was the responsibility of the owner of the unit that the balcony served.The association documents also provided that if the Board of Directors felt it necessary, the condominium could make repairs to a private unit; however, such an action required a formal vote by the Board, with notice to the unit owner.A County inspector had ordered the condominium to repair the balconies, which had begun to rust and lose concrete.The condominium informed all the unit owners that they had to either arrange for repairs through their own contractors, or the condominium would hire a contractor to make the repairs and bill the cost to the unit owners involved.Ms. Jacobson, a unit owner, believed that no repairs to her balcony were necessary and informed the condominium that its contractor could not enter her unit or make repairs to her balcony; but she did not hire any contractor of her own, nor did she obtain any expert statement that no repairs to her balcony were necessary, as the condominium had required.There was an error in communication, and the condominium sent in the contractor to repair Ms. Jacobson's balcony at a cost of $1652, which it then attempted to pass on to her.However, the Board never voted to take this action.

The hearing panel ruled that under the bylaws, the condominium had the legal right to enter a private unit and to make necessary repairs; but in doing so here, the condominium violated its bylaws by not first holding a formal vote of the Board to authorize entering Jacobson's unit and making the repairs over her clear objections.

Therefore the condominium had no authority to make the repairs.However, the Panel noted that there was no evidence that the balcony did not need repairs, and the repairs were to Jacobson's benefit and could not be undone.Therefore, the panel applied the legal principle of "unjust enrichment", under which it ruled that although Jacobson was not liable for the contractual amount of the repair, she was liable for the fair market value of the repair, which the Panel determined to be $831.25 (or half the amount invoiced) and ordered her to pay that amount within 60 days.

As to the claim that the repairs were substandard, the Panel found there was no evidence on this point at all.The panel allowed the unit owner 60 days to submit an estimate from a qualified contractor stating what additional repairs were needed, and ordered the condominium to make those repairs provided that the unit owner first paid the $831 due.

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