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CCOC Decision Summary

#66-09, 74-09, Black v. Dumont Oaks Community Association (December 24, 2010) (Panel: Sample, Farrar)

A storm damaged the portico on the front of the owner's townhome and the homeowner's association (the "HOA") asked him to repair it.  Instead, the homeowner, following the HOA's rules, applied for permission to repair the front of the house but leave the portico off.  This included replacing the siding that had been damaged when the portico was removed.  The homeowner's application asked for permission to replace the "outdated green siding/green shutters" and to "replace the outdated siding in an updated color scheme."  The homeowner replaced the siding on the front of his townhome, but not on the rear of it; and the HOA found him in violation of the terms of the approval it had given him. 

The homeowner appealed to the CCOC, arguing that he had only applied to replace the siding on the front of his home and that the HOA was changing the terms of its approval; he also argued that the HOA engaged in inconsistent rule enforcement because there were several other homes in the HOA which had mismatched siding.

The panel ruled for the HOA.  The panel found that the homeowner's application was ambiguous because it promised to replace "outdated siding" without specifying that it only referred to the front of the house.  The panel said that an ambiguous term will be interpreted against the party who wrote it.  The panel also found that the HOA's interpretation of the application as applying to all the siding on the house was a reasonable one. 

As to the defense of inconsistent enforcement, the panel found that there were several other homes whose siding colors did not exactly match, but that these were the result of spot repairs in which a portion of siding on a wall was replaced or repaired.  This practice is called "stripping."  None of the homes were like the homeowner's, however, in that entire walls were of mismatched or different colors.  The panel held that the homeowner did not prove that the HOA was inconsistent in its enforcement as to him, since his case was different from the examples he referred to.

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