Coach Run Condominium v. Furniss
An individual unit owner of a condominium may not allege constructive eviction, as a special defense to a condominium association's claim that the unit owner allegedly failed to pay condominium common charges. In 2010, the plaintiff condominium association filed a foreclosure suit against the defendant estate executrix, who is the beneficiary of her mother's estate, alleging that she failed to pay $6,017 in condominium common charges and assessments. The defendant filed special defenses, alleging the plaintiff failed to repair exterior walls and common areas, the condo unit became untenantable, she provided the plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to correct, and she vacated the premises. The trial court found that the defendant was required to pay condominium association assessments, even if the condominium association failed to maintain the property. The trial court granted the motion to strike the defendant's special defenses and granted the plaintiff's request for a foreclosure by sale. The defendant appealed. The Connecticut Appellate Court conducted a plenary review. Connecticut General Statutes §47-258(a) provides, "The [condominium] association has a statutory lien on a unit for any assessment attributable to that unit or fines imposed against its unit owner." If individual condominium unit owners were allowed to withhold payment, until individual complaints about services provided by the condominium association were resolved, that might harm the condominium association's interest in timely collection of revenue for the benefit of all the unit owners. "Almost all of the judges of the Superior Court who have addressed this issue," wrote the Appellate Court, "have held that special defenses and counterclaims will not lie in an action brought by a condominium association to foreclose a lien based upon a unit owner's failure to pay common charges." As an owner, the defendant is unable to claim constructive eviction, which constitutes a defense for a tenant to a landlord's failure-to-pay-rent claim. The trial court properly granted the motion to strike the special defenses. There were no genuine issues of material fact, and the plaintiff was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, pursuant to C.G.S. §47-258. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.