Case No. 691-G, ChurchillEastVillage Community Association v. Tobias Awasum (August 11, 2005) (Panel: Stevens, Fleischer, Stein).
The homeowner association (HOA) alleged that the homeowner (HO) violated community rules in that his garbage was not placed at the curb at the designated time for pick-up, that his garbage containers were not removed from the common area after garbage collection, and that household items and garbage were stored on and under his rear deck.
The evidence produced at the hearing showed that the Covenants of the HOA provide among other things: 1) that nothing shall "be done (on any lot or within any dwelling) which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood," 2) "accumulation or storage of litter,scrap metals, refuse, bulk materials, waste, new or used building materials, or trash" is prohibited on any lot, and 3) trash and garbage containers are not permitted to remain in public view except on days of trash collection. The Declaration also authorizes the HOA to enforce the provisions of the Article in question. The HO was given several notices of what the HOA believed were violations of the Declaration, but he failed to comply or respond. The HO was eventually notified that HOA Board intended to file a complaint with the Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC).
The Panel ruled that the HOA had the authority to regulate use of the common areas and prohibited uses and nuisances, as well as the authority to enforce its regulations. However, in order to be enforceable, the regulations must be reasonably clear and specific enough to inform members of the community of what is expected. Also, in this case, the notice of the hearing was not complete and accurate as to the issues under consideration.
However, in this case, the Panel held that the record in this case showed that the HOA's rules did not specifically the time periods for trash containers to be on the common area, and did not provide notice that the community will enforce such standards by removing violating containers at the HO's expense. The Panel also found that the items on the lot that the HOA complained about were household items, not "trash" or other specifically prohibited items, and therefore did not fall under the rule the HOA was attempting to enforce. The Panel concluded that the HO was not in violation of the rules as written, and dismissed the complaint.
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