Montgomery v. Columbia Knoll Condominium Council

344 S.E. 2d 912 (1986)

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Montgomery v. Columbia Knoll Condominium Council

Virginia Supreme Court
344 S.E. 2d 912 (1986)

Facts

Under the Virginia Condominium Act, the Columbia Knoll Condominium Council of Co-owners (the council) (defendant) was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all common elements of the condominium, and individual unit owners were responsible for the maintenance and repair of their individual units. The condominium’s master deed defined a unit to include its windows. Individual condominium units did not have individual gas and electrical meters; therefore, individual unit owners were apportioned utility expenses according to the size of their units. The council, acting on the advice of professionals and with the aim of reducing common-utility expenses, recommended replacing all condominium windows with insulated windows. A majority of unit owners voted to replace all the windows. The Montgomerys (plaintiffs) were among the minority of individual unit owners who objected, and they filed a declaratory-judgment action challenging the council’s authority to replace the windows in their unit and to assess them that expense without their consent. The trial court ruled for the council, finding a direct connection between the council’s action and the common good. The Montgomerys appealed and argued that because the windows were part of their unit and not part of the common elements under the master deed, the council had no authority to have the Montgomerys’ windows replaced. The council, not disputing that a unit included its windows, nevertheless argued that the council had the authority because installing the insulated windows was a reasonable restriction on the use of units and that it was in the best interest of all unit owners, noting the condominium bylaws that required unit owners to promptly maintain and repair their individual units and that imposed liability on the unit owners for any resulting damage from failing to do so.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stephenson, J.)

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