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CCOC Decision Summary

#11-06, GreencastleLakes Community Association v. Davis (April 10, 2008) (Panel: Shontz, Farrar, Maloney)

The homeowner association (HOA) filed a complaint against the owner of the lot alleging that the shed he constructed had not been approved by the HOA and that the shed as constructed did not meet the architectural rules.While the case was pending, the owner moved out and transferred the lot to his wife in a property settlement.The HOA moved for permission to substitute the wife, who was now the sole owner of the lot, as the Respondent in the case and the hearing panel agreed.The (former) wife was then given notice of the complaint and an opportunity to respond and she did appear at the hearing.

The undisputed evidence at the hearing was that the former owner constructed the shed without permission and that the shed was too tall, too large, and sided with the wrong material, all of which were violations of the HOA's architectural rules.The new owner testified that although she was not aware at the time the shed was built that it violated the rules, she became aware of it approximately one and a half years before the hearing and that she had begun to modify the shed to meet the rules but the changes were not complete.

At the end of the hearing the HOA requested reimbursement of its attorneys fees pursuant to a clause in the architectural rules that provided that if the HOA successfully took legal action to abate an architectural violation, the offending homeowner was liable for its costs.

The Hearing Panel held that the owner had violated the rules and ordered her either to remove the shed within 60 days or to make it comply with the rules by then.As to the attorney's fees, the panel concluded that they were justified under Section 10B-13(d) of the CountyCode because the Respondents had substantially delayed the dispute resolution process without good cause and because an association rule required the fees.The Panel also concluded that the amount requested, $2112 at the rate of $230 per hour, was excessive for a simple case and for a short hearing.The Panel determined that a more reasonable rate for a case of this simplicity was $150-$200 per hour, and it reduced the award to $500.


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