Continuing from my January 3, 2011, blog,Florida Southern District Grants Summary Judgment Against QBE Finding Coverage For Association’s Windows And Sliding Doors Damaged By Hurricane Wilma, QBE disagreed with the association’s interpretation of the term “fixtures” in the case, Royal Bahamian Association, Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corporation, No. 10-21511 (S.D. Fla. October 28, 2010).

The issue surfaced regarding the parties’ differing interpretations over the policy provisions within an endorsement, which stated:

1. Building, meaning the building or structure described in the Declarations, including:
b. Fixtures, outside of individual units, including outdoor fixtures;

f. Any of the following types of property contained within a unit, if your Condominium Association Agreement requires you to insure it:

(1) Your fixtures, improvements and alterations that are a part of the building or structure;
g. Fixtures, installations or additions, owned by unit-owners and located inside individual units:

(1) Initially installed in accordance with the original plans and specifications, or replacements of like kind or quality as those initially installed; or
(2) As existed at the time the unit was initially conveyed, if the original plans and specifications are not available.

The term “fixtures” is generally defined as items that have, by physical annexation, become part of the real property to which they are attached. Despite this general definition, the parties in Royal Bahamian disagreed over whether the sliding glass doors and windows of the association were in fact “fixtures” within the policy definition for “Building,” and whether they were within the coverage of the association policy.

The Judge in Royal Bahamian, ultimately denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment regarding their interpretations of the term “fixtures” because there was a lack of evidence regarding whether the windows and sliding glass doors were located “inside” or “outside” of the individual units. The Court stated that it could not make a guess on that distinction in its coverage determination.

Ultimately, despite the parties’ disagreement over the term “fixtures,” the court granted summary judgment in favor of the association and coverage for the windows and doors classified as some “other portion” of condominium property in the policy.

Some condominium declarations define the boundaries of the units and may shed some light on the distinction between “fixtures” on the interior or exterior of the units. Contract and policy definitions may sometimes make a murky situation out of what is generally understood to be clear. Associations should consult with experienced representatives if  this question over “fixtures” and the definition of Condominium Property arises.

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