Condominium Association’s Duties Differ whether Plaintiff is a Co-owner or a Tenant

In Smith v Aberdeen Village C.A., an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals opinion, the Plaintiff rented a room in his sister’s condominium.  He slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot, fracturing his ankle.  He sued the condominium association, its management company, and the condominium’s snow contractor for his damages.

The court found that both the association and the management company exercised sufficient authority over the parking lot to possess and control the common area and thus some duty of care.  Co-owners would call both the board and the management company to advise about icy conditions.

The defendants claimed that the Plaintiff, as lessee, had sufficient rights in the common areas to be considered an owner, and thus MCL 554.139 did not apply, relying on Francescutti v Fox Chase Condominium Association, 312 Mich App 640; 886 NW2d 891 (2015), discussed here.  The court found that the Defendants duties varied depending upon whether a person was an owner or a lessee of a condominium unit.  Because an owner has an undivided interest in the condominium premises, MCL 554.139 does not apply according to Francescutti.  However, the Plaintiff was a tenant, not an owner, and did not possess all of the rights of ownership in the common elements of the association.

The court then consider the requirement of notice and held that, because the motions for summary disposition were decided after the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that a defendant does not need to present evidence of a reasonable inspection regime to negate a claim of notice, the court remanded the case to the trial court for briefing and argument on this issue.

© Steve Sowell 2018