The Missouri Court of Appeals recently considered a case, Laurence Epstein, et al. v. Villa Dorado Condominium Association, Inc., involving a group of condominium unit owners (the “Unit Owners”) who sued their condominium association (the “Association”) when the Association voted for a special assessment against all owners for the costs of repairing elevators used in a limited number of the condominium buildings. The Unit Owners argued that since the elevators were not used by all condominium owners, they should be considered a limited common element. Consequently, if the elevators were deemed a limited common element, then the Unit Owners not using the elevators would not have to contribute to the cost of repair. The trial court found in favor of the Unit Owners and against the Association and deemed the special assessment issued by the Association void against the Unit Owners.
On appeal, the Court first considered the Uniform Condominium Act, which provides that common expenses benefiting fewer than all of the units shall be assessed exclusively against the units benefited only to the extent required by the condominium declaration (the “Declaration”). The Court then reviewed the Declaration and found that the Declaration did not specifically state that the elevators were a limited common element and allowed the Association to assess their cost of repair as a common expense associated with all condominium unit owners. Summary judgment for the Association was affirmed. This case reiterates the importance of a condominium’s declaration and the effects it can have on condominium unit owners throughout Missouri.