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CCOC Decision Summary

#564-O, Tyler v. Brookfield at Milestone Condominium (October 29, 2003)

The homeowner (HO) disputed a parking regulation adopted by his condominium association (CA).The new rule gave non-garage unit owners 2 reserved spaces in the general parking lot, and gave garage unit owners no reserved spaces in the lot.

The evidence produced to the panel showed that the community was composed of two kinds of homes: those with built-in garages, and those with no garages.There was also a parking lot which was part of the general common elements.Until recently, space in the parking lot was filled on a "first-come, first served" basis.The parking lot was designed to meet County law, which basically said the lot must be big enough to make space for two cars per unit, but also that units with garages could be counted as providing two spaces towards that requirement (one space in the garage and one in the driveway).Consequently the lot was not big enough to provide parking space for both non-garage and garage unit owners.

The panel concluded that the new rule was invalid.Under Section 11-103(c)(i) of the Maryland Condominium Act, an amendment to the declaration that changes "the undivided percentage interest in the common elements" requires the unanimous approval of all the members.Likewise, under Section 11-103(c) (iv), the CA may not change a general common element into a limited common element without the unanimous approval of every member.The rule here was adopted by the Board of Directors and sustained later by a vote of the membership at a special meeting, the vote being 44 units in favor and 23 against.(There were 88 units in this association.)

The panel ruled that although the CA had the right to assign reserved parking spaces which may to some extent limit the rights of any owner to free use of all the general common element parking spaces, it did not have the right to completely deny the garage unit owners of their right to any space in the parking lot without a unanimous vote.To do so was to deprive them of their "undivided percentage interest in [a] common element" and thereby to violate Section 11-103(c).The panel further ruled that at least one reserved space in the general parking lot must be provided for each garage unit owner.

[Editor's note: This decision was upheld on appeal in Brookfield at Milestone v. Commission on Common Ownership Communities, Circuit Court No. 247842 (May 6, 2004).]

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