The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us) STATE OF MICHIGAN
FRANK J. KELLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BOILER ACT OF 1965:
Boiler inspections in condominium buildings having a capacity for six or more families
Boilers in condominium buildings having a capacity for six or more families are not exempt from annual boiler inspections under the Boiler Act of 1965, 1965 PA 290.
Opinion No. 6939
April 15, 1997
Honorable Lynn Owen
Lansing, Michigan 48913
You have asked if boilers in condominium buildings having a capacity for six or more families are exempt from annual boiler inspections under the Boiler Act of 1965, 1965 PA 290, MCL 408.751 et seq; MSA 17.137 (1) et seq, because the condominium units are private residences. Sections 11(4) and 19 of the Boiler Act of 1965 require periodic boiler inspections by state government inspectors or other authorized special inspectors.
Section 7 of the Boiler Act of 1965 exempts certain boilers from inspection as follows:
This act shall not apply to:
(d) Steam or vapor boilers carrying a pressure of not more than 15 p.s.i.g., which are located in a private residence or in an apartment building with a capacity of less than 6 families . . . .
(e) Hot water boilers operated at a pressure not exceeding 160 p.s.i.g. or a temperature not exceeding 250 degrees Fahrenheit that are located in a private residence or in an apartment building with a capacity of less than 6 families . . . .
The Legislature did not define the terms private residence or apartment building in the Boiler Act of 1965. Also, research has not revealed any Michigan appellate court decisions defining those two terms as they are used in the Boiler Act of 1965.
This office has been informed that the Bureau of Construction Codes has, in applying the Boiler Code of 1965 to condominiums, classified multiple dwelling apartments and condominium buildings as one and the same, interpreting section 7(d) and (e) as limiting the inspection exemptions to those apartment and condominium buildings with housing capacity for less than six families. In addition, the Bureau does not make boiler inspections in either single family homes or single family detached condominiums. It does make boiler inspections in both multiple dwelling apartments and condominium buildings with a housing capacity for six or more families.
Under this long-standing administrative construction by the agency that administers the Boiler Act of 1965, condominiums in multiple dwelling condominium buildings are not exempt from boiler inspection as private residences. A reasonable construction of a statute by the agency charged with administering that statute is entitled to respectful consideration by the courts and will not be overruled without cogent reasons. Oakland Schools Bd of Ed v Superintendent of Public Instruction, 401 Mich 37, 41; 257 NW2d 73 (1977).
In section 7(d) and (e) of the Boiler Act of 1965 the Legislature did not differentiate on the basis of ownership for purposes of providing boiler inspection exemptions. A boiler in a private residence operated at or below the prescribed pressure or temperature levels is exempt from boiler inspection regardless of whether it is owned or rented. The boiler inspection exemption is based on population density and boiler capacity rather than on various interests in real property. The risk of widespread destruction and injury from a boiler explosion that the act is designed to minimize is the same in either a multiple dwelling apartment or condominium having the capacity to house six or more families. Thus, the administrative interpretation in question is reasonable.
Moreover, at the time of the enactment of the Boiler Act of 1965, condominium projects were regulated by 1963 PA 229. Section 2(c) of 1963 PA 229 defined a "[c]ondominium" as "apartments and the space enclosed by the description thereof . . . in a multiple unit structure." In section 2(a) thereof, the term "[a]partment" was defined as "an enclosed room or rooms constituting a single unit." (Emphasis added.)
It is a settled rule of statutory construction that the Legislature is presumed to have knowledge of and act in harmony with existing laws. People v Harrison, 194 Mich 363, 369; 160 NW 623 (1916). In the enactment of the Boiler Act of 1965, it may be assumed that the Legislature knew that condominiums were, at that time,1 statutorily defined as apartments by 1963 PA 229. Given that legislative history and the language contained in the Boiler Act of 1965, it must be concluded that the Legislature intended to subject both multiple dwelling apartments and condominiums having the capacity to house six or more families to boiler inspections.
It is my opinion, therefore, that boilers in condominium buildings having a capacity for six or more families are not exempt from annual boiler inspections under the Boiler Act of 1965, 1965 PA 290.
FRANK J. KELLEY
STATE OF MICHIGAN
1 Condominiums are currently regulated by the Condominium Act, 1978 PA 59, MCL 559.101 et seq; MSA 26.50(101) et seq , which, in section 171, repealed 1963 PA 229.