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CCOC Decision Summary

#344-G, Potomac Grove Homeowners Association v. Sachs & Caplan (May 31, 1997) (Panel: Hickey, Price, Simon)

The homeowners association (HOA) complained that the homeowners (HO) failed to maintain a section of their property properly, and requested an order that if the HO did not do so the HOA could do so and bill the cost to the HO.  The HO's defense was that the section was impossible to maintain and that if the HOA wanted it maintained it should do so at its own expense.

The evidence at the hearing showed that the HOA governing documents required the individual homeowners to maintain the property they owned.  The HO, and most of his neighbors on the same side of his street, owned lots which backed up to a major County highway.  The lots extended into a steep ditch parallel to the highway and the builder had constructed a fence at the top of the ditch for safety reasons, which extended through all of the lots along the highway.  The HO's did not regularly cut the grass on their lot on the other side of the fence, although all their neighbors did cut their own grass on the slope of the ditch.  The HOA did not maintain that property.  The HOA testified that the HO could move or remove the fence in their property, provided they first applied for permission to do so.

The hearing panel found that the Declaration required the HO's to maintain all of their property at their own expense, that the area involved was their private property and not a common element, and that the HO's had failed to maintain the property.  The panel concluded that the HOA's attempt to enforce the rules was a reasonable decision within its legal rights to make. 

The panel ordered the HO's to maintain their entire property, and further ordered that if the HO's failed to do so within 20 days of receiving notice from the HOA, then the HOA could perform the necessary maintenance and the HO's must reimburse it for its costs in doing so.

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