Condo Has Deeded Decks Supported by Commonly Owned Columns

C.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own 1 unit of 5-unit condo. There is a deck structure with decks for 3 of the 5 units. These decks are part of the units which they abut, they are contained in deeds of those units. Condo docs specify that all maintenance, repair, or replacement on deck is to be paid for by those 3 units. Deck now needs to be replaced and owners of “deck” units claim that the stairways and columns of deck are common areas and to be paid for by association. My Question: is payment of the deck replacement the responsibility of the 3 units or of the condo association? Are the stairways and columns of the deck part of the deck per se or are they actually common areas?

Mister Condo replies:

C.L., don’t you just love grey areas? Especially when it comes to governance documents of small condominiums like yours? My guess is that the intention of the documents was to convey that the decks and anything attached to the decks (like the stairs and columns) are owned by the deck owners. But the documents don’t say that, do they? You need to “imply” what the documents mean and that is always going to cause a problem for condo owners like you and me. This is why attorneys drive nicer cars than me. The only way to get a ruling on this is through a court case or arbitration. The Board is charged with making the determination. Whatever they determine, there is likely going to be unit owners in disagreement. If they disagree loudly enough, there may be a lawsuit. Since it is only a 5-unit association, I am hoping it doesn’t come to that as the legal costs will likely be more expensive than the deck columns and stairs. My guess is that the columns and stairs aren’t going to be that expensive and won’t need replacing all that often. I would pray for the wisdom of Solomon and hope that the Board comes up with a solution that is satisfactory to all. Good luck!

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