#774, Frank Prescott v. Manor Towne Mutual Homes (May 16, 2006) (Panel: Stevens, Maloney, Vergagni)
The homeowner (HO), the owner of a unit in a federally-assisted housing cooperative (HOA), filed several complaints against the board: 1. that the HOA should repay him for repairs he made to his unit that were the HOA's responsibility; 2. that the HOA should reimburse him for excess heating bills because the mechanic used by the HOA improperly shut off his heat pump; 3. the HOA improperly towed his cars and should refund him the towing charges; 4. the HOA improperly denied him the right to sublet his unit to another family; and 5. the HOA would not pay him the market value of his unit, including the value of improvements he made to the unit, if he wanted to sell his share.
After a public hearing in which several witnesses testified, the Hearing Panel ruled as follows.
1. the HOA had no responsibility to pay for the HO's repairs until the HO allowed the HOA to inspect his unit in order to verify the repairs and assess their value. The HO had refused to allow an inspection because he did not want one of the HOA's managers in his unit. The Panel ordered the HOA to pay the value of the repairs after it is able to inspect the unit.
2. the Commission has no authority over the HO's claim against a private contractor under Chapter 10B of the CountyCode; and therefore the Panel denied this claim.
3. the evidence showed that the HO's cars had no tags on them when they were towed and were therefore in violation of the HOA parking policy; the Panel denied this claim.
4. the evidence showed that the HO's unit was not being offered for sale at this time and that the HOA was promising to comply with its rules for establishing a buy-out price should the unit be offered. This HOA must comply with federal rules to make its units affordable to low-income purchasers and therefore there are restrictions on the kinds of improvements allowed; the HOA is not permitted to pay a unit owner for every improvement he might wish to make. The panel denied this claim.
Likewise, there are restrictions on a unit owner's right to sublet his unit in this HOA in order to preserve its availability to low-income residents. The HO's sublease is indefinite in term and the HOA was within its rights to refuse permission for the subtenancy. The panel denied this claim.