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Association Liable for Unit Owner’s Injury

A Michigan court recently held that a condo association was negligent in failing to repair the developer’s construction defects, which led to a unit owner’s injury.  The owner noticed a problem with excessive draining on her roof and had complained several times to the developer and association.  The draining frequently caused water to overflow from the gutters and collect on her porch.

A month after the developer relinquished control to the board, ice accumulated on the walkway and the unit owner fell sustaining serious injuries.  The owner filed suit against the association based on theories of premises liability, nuisance, and negligence.

The Michigan court of appeals reasoned that, akin to landlord tenant law, the association had a duty to maintain the common areas in a reasonably safe condition.  According to the association’s bylaws, the gutters and roofs are included as common areas and are under the exclusive control of the association.  Because the association failed to remedy the construction defects that caused the ice to accumulate, the association could be held liable for the owner’s injuries.  The court of appeals remanded the case for further proceedings.

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