|Member Must Pay Association's Attorney Fees|
Facts: A member obtained the approval of the association to build a house, a retaining wall, and a barn on his lot located in the community. The governing documents require that work on any construction projects must be completed within a year of approval. Even so, two years after approval, the member still had not begun construction of the house, and the association gave the member notice that it would begin mediation proceedings to resolve the construction delays. The member did not heed the notices, the mediation proceedings fell through, and the association sued the member, requesting an injunction to require him to stop construction on the improvements on his lot and to substantially build the house within the year. The association requested further that if the member did not substantially build the house within the year, then the association would have access to the member's property and would be able to tear down the improvements on his lot.
The trial court, in its ruling, provided specific deadlines for the member to meet. If the member did not meet these deadlines, the association was allowed to come onto the property and demolish the half-completed structures. The court also awarded attorney fees to the association. These orders were made pursuant to California state law, which states that in an action to enforce governing documents, the prevailing party shall be awarded its attorney fees. Because the association did not receive the exact injunction it requested, the member appealed the attorney fee award.
Ruling: A California appeals court agreed with the lower court's decision to award the association with attorney's fees.
Reasoning: The appeals court ruled that the trial court's ruling embodied the association's “main” litigation objective. The association clearly received a more favorable judgment at trial, one that contemplated demolition. And the court stated that even after the modified injunction, demolition of the member's structures remained a substantial possibility.
My Take: members always almost always take the position that "It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission" and argue that an order requiring removal of an improperly built home constitutes "economic waste" I beg to differ; if you want enforceable requirements, get squared away ASAP with your policy under the law, set objective standards, and enforce them...REMEMBER: there is no such thing as "ugly" any more....
Monday, October 12, 2009
ARC Guidelines for HOA's
In July 2007 the Legislature modified the requirements for enforcable ARC guidelines: I have a video explaining the issue , click here.
This from a California court: