Published on: November 23, 2001
One of the more difficult issues facing Boards is dealing with non-unit owners who either fail to abide by the governing documents or who cause damage to the Condominium. This is the case as very few master deeds or by-laws make Unit Owners responsible for the wrongful acts of those at the Condominium at their invitation. Fortunately, among the many salutary provisions of Chapter 400 of the Acts of 1992 is an often overlooked clause which was added to the common expense collection provisions. That clause states, “If any expense is incurred by the organization of unit owners as a result of the unit owner’s failure to abide by the requirements of this chapter or the requirements of the master deed, trust, by-laws, restrictions, rules or regulations, or by the misconduct of any unit owner, or his family members, tenants, or invitees, the organization of unit owners may assess that cost exclusively against the unit owner and such assessment shall constitute a lien against that unit from the time the assessment is due, and such assessment shall be enforceable as a common expense under this chapter.” (M.G.L.c. 183A, § 6(a)(ii)) Thus, per force of the Condominium Act, a Unit Owner is not only responsible for their own wrongful acts, but also, for the misconduct of their family members, tenants or invitees. The only provision is that to utilize this provisio, there must be an expense incurred by the association as a result of the misconduct. Therefore, the cost of repairing some damage, is clearly covered. But what if the person is merely unruly, or loud, etc.
Fortunately, the provision is fairly broad. Any expense incurred can be assessed. Thus, if the association must turn to its property manager or attorney to issue an appropriate letter to the unit owner, would not their fees be a cost incurred as a result of this misconduct.” The language of the provision appears to intend a sweeping remedy. The association and the other unit owners should not have to bear a cost incurred as a result of the wrongfully conduct of a unit owner or their family members, tenants or invitees. Hopefully, our Courts will construe it in this fashion.