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#794-O, Lapkoff v. CamelbackVillage Condominium Ass'n., (April 5, 2006) (Panel: McCabe, Gramzinski, Williams)

The homeowner (HO) challenged her homeowner association's (HOA's) budget because the board gave insufficient advance notice of it; she disputed the election of the board because the proxies did not list the board candidates in alphabetical order; the board failed to call a special budget meeting after receiving a petition of homeowners; and the HOA's meeting records and minutes were inadequate. Finally the HO claimed the HOA had violated the automatic stay imposed by County law by going ahead with the budget under dispute.

The Hearing Panel found that: 1. The HOA properly offered a budget 30 days before the start of the fiscal year as required by State law, but that the budget was not adopted at that meeting due to member opposition; the board proposed a revised budget on June 21, 2005 to be put to a membership vote on July 20, 2005. This violated the Maryland requirement of 30 days' notice, but the Panel ruled the violation harmless because the HOA essentially followed all requirements for notice and an opportunity to be heard on the budget. 2. Although the proxy ballots did not list the candidates in alphabetical order, as required by County law, the error was harmless because there were only 3 candidates. 3. The HOA's bylaws required that at least 25% of the owners sign a petition for a special budget meeting, and the petition offered in this case contained the signatures of only 18%. 4.The HO could not prove that the HOA's meeting records were inadequate. 5. The HOA did apply to the Commission for relief from the automatic stay, but its request was not acted on before the hearing, and because the Panel upheld the HOA's budget it declined to penalize the HOA. However, because the HOA did violate the law in 2 respects, even if the errors were ruled harmless, the Panel determined that the HOA should refund the HO's $50.00 filing fee.

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