Determining what constitutes an alteration to common elements rather than the use of personal property is the central issue in an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief filed by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) in a Michigan case. The case, Hunters Pointe Condominium Association v. Csicsila, involves a hot tub that was installed, without the community association's approval, on a limited common element deck.
The case originated when a resident sued Hunters Pointe Condominium Association after the association ruled that the hot tub must be removed because its installation violated the association's master deed, bylaws and rules, as well as the Michigan Condominium Act. The trial court ruled that the hot tub could remain, taking the opinion that the installation constituted the placement of personal property rather than an alternation to the common element deck.
CAI's amicus curiae brief was filed in April 2000 after Hunters Pointe appealed the trial court's ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals. CAI's brief argued that the court should interpret the Michigan Condominium Act to support the authority of community associations to regulate the placement of personal property on common elements since such actions can significantly impact the structural and visual integrity of the common element and the community at large.
"This case is important because it cuts to the heart of a community association's legal responsibility to ensure the protection of common elements for individual residents and the community in general," said Ronald L. Perl, Esq., chair of CAI's Government & Public Affairs Counsel and a member of CAI's Amicus Curiae Advisory Group. "There's no bias against hot tubs but there is a concern if one individual is able to increase the potential risks and costs to an entire association and all its homeowners. Ensuring such responsible protection for all residents is one of the main reasons community associations exist," said Perl.
CAI amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, one aspect of CAI's overall government and public affairs efforts, are filed in federal or state cases that pose questions of significant importance in community association law. CAI's brief in this case was prepared by CAI attorney members Ronald L. Perl, Esq., Richard S. Ekimoto, Esq., Lynn S. Jordan, Esq., Michael S. Karpoff, Esq., Stephen M. Marcus, Esq., Tom Moriarty, Esq., and Steven Sowell, Esq.
The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.
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