The Limits of Exclusive Use Rights in Condominium Common Areas
It’s not unusual for condominium documents to set aside parts of the development’s common area for the exclusive use of particular units. This device allows the developer to offer a degree of privacy in decks, driveways, garages, attics, and similar spaces that are affiliated with, but outside of, a unit. But how exclusive is an exclusive use area? The Massachusetts Appeals Court answered this question in a recent decision.
Calvao v. Raspallo (pdf) involved a two-unit residential condominium in Dennis, “down the Cape.” The defendant Raspallo made some renovations to her unit, including an addition that encroached by 111 square feet into the exclusive use common area next to her unit. She obtained permits for this work after the developer appointed her sole trustee of the condominium. The owners of the other unit, the Calvaos, sued in Superior Court, where a judge ruled that Raspallo’s appointment as sole trustee was invalid and ordered the addition removed. Raspallo appealed.
The Appeals Court first