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CCOC Decision Summary

#06-06, BlackburnVillage Homeowners Association v. Saunders (October 31, 2006) (Panel: Sample, Huggins, Vergagni)

The homeowners association (HOA) complained that the homeowner (HO) had installed a security door on her unit in violation of the rules regulating storm doors.The HO replied that a security door was necessary given her age, disability and the existence of crime in the neighborhood.

The hearing panel found that the rules regulating storm doors applied to security doors as well, and that the rules were reasonable.The HO had violated the rule by installing the security door without seeking advance approval from the architectural committee.Although the HO argued that the rule should allow for security doors, the panel ruled that so long as there was a reasonable basis for the rule as written, the panel had no authority under the law to substitute its own judgment for that of the HOA.

However, at the hearing the HO was able to show that another unit owner in the same HOA had installed a security door.Under cross-examination by the HO's attorney, the HOA's property manager testified that she was unaware of that second door, and that in her opinion it was a violation of the rules and she would issue a violation notice.But under cross-examination, the head of the architectural committee, who also testified that he was unaware of that door, said that in his opinion it was not a violation of the rule and he would allow it if the owner applied for permission to have it.Furthermore, the evidence showed that although the HOA's own rules required an architectural committee of 3 members, the committee had only 1 member, who was making all decisions for the HOA.

The panel concluded that although the storm door rule was valid, its enforcement was inconsistent and arbitrary because the architectural committee was not operating according to the rules.The panel ordered the HOA to suspend enforcement of the storm door rule until such time as it formed a proper architectural committee, which it was ordered to do within 30 days.The panel ordered the HO to apply for approval of her security door to the newly-constituted architectural committee, which was to reconsider and to act upon her application pursuant to the rules.The panel suggested that the HO consider applying to have the rule changed so as to permit storm doors, but the panel did not order any change in the rule.Since both parties had violated the community rules, the panel denied both sides' motions for attorney's fees.

 

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