Recent Court Rulings

Owner Sues Manager and Board Over His Own Tenant’s Behavior

Owners renting their units can lead to all sorts of complications for a community, but, just when you think you’ve got your arms around the potential issues, another one can pop up. The manager and board of directors for a condominium association in New York City, for example, probably never considered the possibility that an…

How to Handle “Chronic Complainers” in the Community

Most community association managers have run into the unpleasant phenomenon of the “chronic complainer” in at least one of their communities. Owners who are never happy and may even turn to the courts for relief, no matter how minor the issue, can cause some frustrating and costly headaches. A judge in the Chicago area recently…

Access Denier Ends Up on the Hook for Association’s Legal Bills

Governing documents generally allow associations to enter individual units with proper notice for maintenance and emergency repair purposes. Owners don’t always cooperate, though, and sometimes associations have to go to court to gain access. The good news? As a case involving a California owners association demonstrates, they may be able to recover their costs for…

Owner Who Denied Access to Her Unit for Repairs Liable to HOA

A recent case involving a California owners association demonstrates that HOAs in the state may be able to recover their costs when they have to go to court to force owners to grant access for units for maintenance or an emergency repair. Access Denied Throughout February and March 2016, the association made repeated efforts to…

Owner Sues Without Association Approval, Then Sues Association To Recoup His Costs

Sometimes owners strike out on their own and file lawsuits they think their associations should be filing—but does that mean the association has to reimburse them for their legal costs? The guiding principle regarding action, or lack thereof, is clear in most community associations: The majority rules. Sometimes, though, fired-up owners who disagree with the…

Association Isn’t Liable for Lone Wolf Owner’s Legal Costs

The guiding principle regarding action, or lack thereof, is clear in most community associations: The majority rules. Sometimes, though, fired-up owners who disagree with the majority decide take matters into their own hands. That’s what happened in a Wisconsin case involving a dispute over ownership of a sewage system that was an association’s common element.…

Association Improperly Fined Homeowner

Facts: A homeowner in a planned community was asked by the association to plant grass on a portion of his property to cover exposed soil. The homeowner notified the association by letter that grass wouldn’t grow on that area, but that he would plant a flower bed to cover the exposed spot. He didn’t receive a response to the letter and didn’t formally get permission from the association to install the flower bed, which was required under the declaration of covenants.

Governing Documents Determined Lot Assessments

Facts: Lot owners in a planned residential community owned two adjacent lots. After several years, they combined both lots into a single lot. They followed state law to do so and properly recorded the change. When the association charged them for assessments for each of the two lots, which now were combined, the owners objected.

Vineyard Wasn’t a ‘Business’ Prohibited by Governing Documents

Facts: Two homeowners cultivated a vineyard on their land in a planned community for the purpose of making wine to be sold to the public. The association’s CC&Rs didn’t prohibit the cultivation of a vineyard for this purpose, but they did prohibit “any business or commercial activity.” Several other homeowners objected to the operation of what they considered to be a commercial vineyard in violation of the prohibition against any business or commercial activity.

‘One Contract’ Theory Didn’t Relieve Association’s Obligation to Repay Loan

Facts: Over the course of several years, a construction company performed construction work for an association. When the association encountered financial trouble, it requested a loan from the construction company. The association also needed to replace a deteriorating retaining wall and asked the construction company to bid on the project. The parties agreed to and executed: (1) a promissory note memorializing the loan; and (2) a contract for the construction of the wall.