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CCOC Decision Summary

#255-O, Kearns v. Snowdens Mill Townhouse Association #2, Inc. (October 14, 1994) (Panel: Hickey, Gick, Mehler) 

The homeowner (HO) challenged the right of his homeowner association (HOA) to fine him $25 for the late payment of an assessment.

The evidence at the hearing showed that the HOA Declaration and Bylaws provide for a late fee of 6% per year if an assessment overdue by 30 days; that the HOA board later passed a rule raising the  late fees from $20 to $25 in December, 1992; that on July 1, 1993 the HOA assessed the HO $124 for the quarter, and that he did not pay this sum within 30 days, leading to a fine of $25; the reason for the late payment was that the HO had mailed it to the "Snowdens Mill Homeowners Association", which has a different address from that of the Snowdens Mill Townhouse Association #2.

The hearing panel held that the HOA did not have the authority to change the late fees policy established by its Declaration and Bylaws without a formal amendment properly adopted by the members, instead of a rule adopted by the board.  Therefore the board rule was invalid.  The panel held that the proper fee was 6% of $124, or, $7.44, and the panel ordered the HOA to refund all of the late fee of $25 paid in excess of that amount.  The panel further held that the HO did not prove that the Snowdens Mill Homeowners Association was an agent for the Snowdens Mill Townhouse Association, and that it was the HO's responsibility to provide such proof.  Therefore he did not show that his payment was received by his HOA on time and he remained liable for a late fee.

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