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CCOC Decision Summary

#50-07, GreencastleLakes Community Association v. Copeland (December 22, 2008) (Panel: Farrar, Oxendine, Thompson)

The homeowners association, Greencastle Lake Community Association (GCLA), complained that Copeland, the homeowner, had installed a shed under her deck without approval, and in the wrong style.The association also alleged that the homeowner had repainted part of her siding in the wrong color and requested an order requiring her to remove the shed and repaint the siding.Copeland did not answer the complaint or defend herself at the hearing.

The hearing panel nonetheless dismissed the complaint, finding that GCLA had failed to follow proper procedures for taking action against Copeland.The evidence showed that the board of directors never held a hearing or voted to take any action against Copeland.Instead, it delegated all authority for enforcing the architectural rules to the property manager.The property manager withheld Copeland's parking and pool privileges and filed the complaint against her with the CCOC.This delegation of authority was not written.However, GCLA's own governing documents required that all agreements between the board and the manager be in writing. The panel held that the delegation of authority to the manager violated GCLA's own rules.

The panel also found that GCLA's rules allowed for a penalty not to exceed 30 days.However, the penalties imposed on Copeland were unlimited in duration.Furthermore, although the rules allowed for Copeland to appeal a violation to the board of directors, the notices given to her did not inform her of this right.Finally, the panel found that GCLA suspended Copeland's privileges immediately upon finding her to be in violation of the architectural rules, which is not permitted by Section 10B-9 (d) of the Montgomery County Code.Section 10B-9 (d) prohibits communities from taking any adverse action for 14 days after a decision that holds a homeowner in violation.

The panel held that GCLA failed to properly exhaust its internal remedies against the homeowner and ordered the complaint dismissed without prejudice.It further ordered that all of Copeland's privileges be reinstated.The panel ruled that only the board could take any action or withhold any privileges against Copeland until such time as it made a legally-valid delegation of authority to the manager. It further said that no suspension of privileges could last more than 30 days without a vote of the board to renew the penalty for another 30-day term.

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