A Maryland Court recently ruled on the extent of powers a Condominium Board had in dealing with a unit owner who was delinquent in assessments (Elvation Towne Condominium Regime II, Inc. v. Rose, 162 A.3d 1027). The Association at issue adopted a policy by which delinquent unit owners would be deprived of their right to enjoy certain common elements – namely the pool and parking of the Association. When they suspended those rights for the delinquent unit owner, the unit owner filed suit alleging the policy was unlawful, since the Association’s declaration did not provide for the Board to withhold common element use rights.
The trial court and court of appeals both agreed that the Association went beyond its authority in adopting the policy. The Court noted that Maryland state law stated that common elements were subject to use and enjoyment by all owners unless the declaration said otherwise. Because the Association’s declaration did not specifically grant the Association the power to withhold common element use rights, it could not adopt and enforce a policy doing so.
Lesson: Make sure your Association documents allow you to take the actions you are taking so that you don’t waste your time and your Association’s money on enforcing invalid rules or defending a lawsuit that you can’t win. Condominium law and homeowner association law contain unique aspects that attorneys who don’t specialize in this area of law will likely miss. Ask your attorney if they are a member of CCAL (College of Community Association Lawyers). If not, at least considering interviewing one that is, as they have spent years practicing association law.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Husch Blackwell LLP Condominium and HOA Law Team.