Are You Stuck With Docks Forever?

In 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an alarming ruling for associations in a case involving oral approval for the installation of docks. But now, the state’s highest court has weighed in on the case with a much more favorable ruling.

The lawsuit was filed by some owners in a lakefront association. Under the community’s restricted covenants, which were recorded in the 1960s, owners without lake frontage could obtain approval from the architectural review committee (ARC) to install a dock adjacent to a lakeside parcel set aside for such “backlot owners.” This dedicated parcel was included on the plat for the community.

The plaintiffs obtained approval and maintained their docks for years. When backlot owners sold their properties, their docks were included in the conveyances.

The association was formed in 2005 and adopted an unusual admission process. Rather than the typical approach of admitting owners upon purchase of a unit, it required owners to apply; when accepted, the application was recorded.

The application stated that, upon acceptance, the association “agrees to allow” the owner and all future owners of the unit to continue “all past permitted rights” of the association property. Title to association property remained with the association “subject to the rights of use and enjoyment” provided in the application and “granted elsewhere to other members.”

In 2015, the plaintiffs learned from the association that certain docks needed to be removed, added, adjusted, and realigned. They sued to block this plan, claiming vested rights in the docks.

Read the full story now and learn how it all shook out: Court Says HOA Can Revoke Dock Approvals

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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