#88-06, GreencastleLakes Community Association v. Baker (December 13, 2007) (Panel: Friedman, Farrar, Gelfound)
The community association (CA) complained that the homeowner (HO) had violated the community rules by failing to maintain her property in good condition.
The HO never filed a reply to the complaint, and the Commission set the matter for a public hearing.Subsequently, the CA filed a motion for an order of default. In addition to the relief requested in its motion for a default order, the CA also requested that the HO be required to pay its attorneys fees. The HO did not appear at the scheduled hearing, and the hearing panel determined to issue a default judgment against her.
While the hearing panel was considering its final ruling, but before it issued the ruling, the CA notified it that the HO had finally made all the necessary repairs.
The hearing panel found, on the basis of the evidence presented in the complaint, that the HO had been in violation of the rules, that the violation was long-standing, and that the HO would probably not have made the necessary corrections unless the CA had filed and prosecuted its complaint with the Commission to the hearing stage.The panel further found that the rules of the CA clearly provided that if the CA had to take legal action to force a homeowner to obey the architectural rules, the homeowner would be liable for any legal fees charged to the CA.The hearing panel further found that the CA's legal fees of $580 for 2 hours of work on the case were reasonable.Applying Section 10B-13(d) of the Montgomery County Code, the hearing panel ordered the HO to refund to the CA the sum of $580 for legal fees and $50 for the filing fee.The hearing panel also ruled that this sum could be treated as an assessment and collected the same way that the CA could collect other assessments.