Recent Court Rulings

Community’s Tax Assessment Is Too High

Facts: A community's common areas included parcels of land used as a parking lot and a tennis court. A town's assessor valued the common areas in excess of $100,000 by comparing their square footage to other home values in the community. In effect, the tax assessor, assuming the best use of these lands would be to build homes, assessed them at a far higher value than at their previous assessment.

Rental Restriction Did Not Violate FHA

Facts: A member had lived in her community until she had to move into a nursing home after her husband's death. To qualify for Medicaid and to finance her care, she rented out her home, in violation of her community's restriction against renting. The member died and the association sued her estate, arguing that the rental ban was needed to protect property values within the community.

Association Not Liable for Fraud

Facts: A cell phone company wanted to build a tower near an association community. When the association found out about this proposal, it filed an objection with the city. The association board then negotiated with the company. After the negotiations, the tower was built 150 feet from the location originally proposed, and the color and type of tower were changed. The company also agreed to pay the association an initial payment of $7,500 and $400 per month for the duration of the 20-year lease.

Association President Can’t Disburse Settlement Funds

Facts: A condo association sued to stop the developers from making changes to a governing document that would have altered the rights of the existing members. Before the trial began, a court had granted the association a temporary stop order against the developer as long as the association could post a $300,000 bond. Twenty-two association members agreed to pledge personal assets worth $230,000 to secure the bond. Four years later, the court ruled for the association and ordered the bond to be released.

Association’s Compliance Process Is Valid

Facts: Two association members were involved in a dispute over the height of trees along their adjoining properties. One member complained that his neighbor's trees blocked his view of a nearby mountain range, in violation of the association's governing documents. The complaining member brought a covenant violation petition against his neighbor according to the association's covenant compliance process. An outside arbitrator determined that six of the neighboring member's trees were too tall.