Are your association’s governing documents free of typos? Many are not. The danger that typos pose to association documents was brought home with force recently when published an article about a $16 million lawsuit related to a typo in the public offering statement for a condominium in New York City.

According to the article, the attorney who drafted the offering statement inserted a provision that said that the buyers of condominiums would receive their deposits back if the first closing in the condominium didn’t occur by September 1, 2008. The attorney intended to draft the statement so that it provided a deadline of September 1, 2009. When the first closing did not occur until February 2009, several buyers filed suit demanding a return of their deposits. Litigation is currently pending before the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though a public offering statement is directed towards the initial purchasers of a condominium unit, typos in associations’ articles of incorporation, declaration of restrictive covenants, and bylaws can wreck havoc on a community for years to come. If your association knows that it has a typo or typos in your governing documents, it should consult with its legal counsel to determine whether the typo can be fixed through a corrective amendment.

And if you haven’t read through your association’s governing documents lately to check for typos, we’d strongly recommend that you do so. It’s always smarter to take a proactive approach than to allow a small typo to lead to major legal problems.