Winter 2022

Volume 49, No. 1


Five Steps Community Association Leaders Can Take Today Regarding Their Insurance in Light of the Su

By Matthew W. Heron and Kayleigh B. Long

The Surfside Condo Collapse presents several lessons for community associations, among them the importance of insurance policies to leaders responsible for managing the infrastructure of a community. As of July 30, 2021, the losses stemming from the Surfside Condo Collapse were estimated to be up to $1 billion, yet Champlain Towers South only had $30 million in property insurance and $18 million in liability insurance, resulting in a substantial loss, most of which will likely not be covered by insurance. In tandem with other efforts, such as an emphasis on proactive maintenance, repairs and replacement of their infrastructure, community associations also must carefully consider the insurance they obtain for their communities to avoid situations of substantial, uncovered financial losses.

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Failing Infrastructure: Examining Liability for Defective Common Elements in a Michigan Condominium

Prescriptive EasementsBy Kevin M. Hirzel, Esq.

On June 24, 2021, the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida partially collapsed, resulting in the death of 98 residents. While investigators continue to search for the cause or causes of the Surfside condominium collapse, it is anticipated that it will be determined that there were multiple causes for the collapse that may relate to the initial construction of the condominium, maintenance of the condominium, the inability of the condominium association to fund repair projects, insufficient warnings from engineers, and misinformation received from the municipality. Condominium associations, condominium board members, condominium developers, municipalities, and vendors all play a role in ensuring that the common elements of a condominium are appropriately constructed and maintained. While the Surfside collapse is hopefully an outlier, and likely occurred due to a unique set of circumstances, it is still important to understand the potential liability associated with defective common elements in a condominium. Accordingly, this article will discuss the potential liability of developers, municipalities, condominium associations, condominium board members, and vendors that is associated with failing to properly construct and maintain the general common elements in a Michigan condominium.

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Transition of Control From Condominum Developer to Co-Owners: A Critical Time for Condominium Associ


By Sarah R. Karl and Todd J. Skowronski

Regardless of whether a condominium is brand new or thirty years old, the upkeep and funding for repairs and replacements of the community’s aging common element infrastructure is the most significant obligation a condominium association will face. Initially, the developer controls the association and will eventually transfer control to nondeveloper co-owners through a process called transition of control. The transitional control date marks the first time co-owners will have a real say in the direction of their community. Condominium boards should therefore start planning for the future immediately after the transitional control date. Sound decisions by initial boards can ensure the association of co-owners is ready to meet future maintenance, repair, and replacement needs as time passes and the condominium’s infrastructure either reaches the end of its useful life and needs replacement, or otherwise needs ongoing long-term maintenance.

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Time to Pay the Piper: Funding Deferred Maintenance in Condominium Projects

Common Issues

By Jeffrey L. Vollmer and Bree Anne Stopera

Despite the wishful thinking of some condominium co-owners, money does not grow on the trees adorning their communities. Instead, those co-owners must look in the mirror for funding periodic maintenance and the repair and replacement of common elements assigned to the association. How to pay for the inevitable deterioration of those common elements, particularly in communities consisting of attached units, may be an afterthought for new and relatively young projects. Yet, many early condominium projects are at or approaching 50 years old and even those that planned prudently may be facing daunting infrastructure updates. Those mature projects, which failed to sock away enough money, are bound to confront a myriad of challenges, both financially and politically, of how to pay for expensive deferred maintenance or end-of-life replacements of roofs, roads and other big-ticket components. 

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If the Sky Falls, Are You Prepared? Association Emergency Preparedness in the Wake of the Surfside


By Tracy N. Danner-Bond, Esq. and Melissa D. Francis, Esq.

The Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside, Florida is a tragic reminder to us all that you never know when an emergency or disaster might present itself. Is your Community Association prepared?

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Lessons From the Surfside Tragedy: Deconstructing Red Flag from the History of Champlain Towers Sout

By Gregory  J. Fioritto, Esq., Brooke M. Jordan, Esq., and Richard L. Wagner, Jr., Esq.

On Thursday, June 24, 2021, at 1:25 a.m., a huge section of the 12-story beachfront condominium in Surfside, Florida known as Champlain Towers South collapsed.  Nine seconds later, another massive portion of the building collapsed, destroying 55 of the 136 units. The disaster is tied with the January 28, 1922 Knickerbocker Theater roof collapse in Washington D.C. as the third-deadliest structural engineering failure in the United States.

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Chair's Report

By Gregory J. Gamalski

I am pleased to report that the state of the Section is strong. It appears that the fog of the Covid pandemic may finally be lifting, which is wonderful news for the world and our  Section since we can, we hope, shift to more in person interactions in appropriate circumstances. News accounts suggest the real estate industry, and particularly the industrial and residential real estate segments, continue to be strong. Nonetheless there are a number of troubling matters on the horizon not the least of which is the recent invasion of  Ukraine and international instability worldwide.

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Dates: March 7–9, 2024
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, AZ

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