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CCOC Decision Summary

Ozkanian v. Walnut Grove Condominium Ass’n. #22-15 (February 26, 2016) (Panel: Winegar, Coyle, Fine)

The unit owner, who was also a landlord, complained that the Condo improperly billed him for repairing damage caused by a clogged condensate drain riser, which he claimed was a common element. He further claimed that as a result of the Condo’s negligent delays in making the repairs, he suffered lost rents; and he added a claim for compensation for stress and aggravation. He sought a total of $26,000 in damages.

The Condo agreed that the plumbing in question was a common element which it had a duty to maintain. It conceded also that it had a duty to repair damage to the unit but denied liability for lost rents and aggravation. It agreed to repair the floors of the unit but not to replace the carpeting because the carpeting was an improvement to the unit made by the owner and under the Condominium Act it was not liable to repair damages to improvements.

Just prior to the hearing, the Condo offered to settle the complaint for $14, 641, which was its estimate of the cost to repair the unit. The unit owner rejected the offer and the hearing proceeded.

The hearing panel found that the Condo had a duty to repair the unit, and that the reasonable cost of repairs to the unit was $9363. It also found that the cost to replace the carpet was $1678, although the Condo had no liability to replace it. The total of $11,041 is less than the amount offered to the owner by the Condo.

The panel found the owner had denied access to the unit to the Condo because he did not agree with the Condo’s planned scope of repairs. Furthermore, he had not complied with a Condo rule requiring him to provide the Condo with a copy of his leases.

The panel found that the CCOC had no jurisdiction to award damages for stress and aggravation under Chapter 10B as they are not claims permitted by that Chapter.

The panel further found that the owner was not entitled to damages for lost rent, because they are “special” or “consequential” damages under Maryland law. Such damages do not arise naturally from the breach of a contract; instead, they are part of the parties’ joint understandings at the time they made the contract. When the owner purchased this unit the Condo could not know if he would rent it or live in it, or what the rents might be. Moreover, he failed to give the Condo a copy of the lease so the Condo could not know what the actual rent was.

The panel awarded the owner the sum of $11041. The panel further found that by rejecting a settlement offer which he should have known was greater than the amount he could win at a hearing the owner pursued a maintained a frivolous complaint and delayed the resolution of the dispute. It found that the cost of the hearing to the Condo was $1145, and it deducted this sum from the $11041 it had found to be the cost of repairs. It therefore ordered the Condo to pay the net sum of $9896 to the owner.

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