Facts

In 2015, Unit Owner’s dog, Maggie, was an 11-year old golden retriever.  Maggie bit another dog living at the Association and had previously “displayed aggressive behavior or injured another dog” at the Association.  After the latest bite, the Association issued a notice of violation that Maggie had to be removed from the Association.  The Unit Owner complied.  But, in April 2016, 11 months later, the Unit Owner snuck Maggie back into his unit.  The Unit Owner alleged that the return of Maggie “significantly” improved his depression for which he claimed the need of an emotional support animal.  In 2017 the Association sent the Unit Owner another notice to remove Maggie or face eviction.  Unit Owner sued claiming the Association refused to accommodate his disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”).

Suit 1

At trial the jury found (yes it went all the way to a jury so this was not cheap):

  1. The removal of Maggie made the residence unavailable to the Unit Owner;
  2. The Unit Owner was disabled under the FHA;
  3. The Association would not have taken adverse action against the Unit Owner but for Maggie; and
  4. Maggie alleviated one or more of the symptoms of the Unit Owner’s disability.

However, the jury also found that Maggie “posed a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals and no reasonable accommodation would have eliminated or acceptably minimized the risk Maggie posed.”   As a result, the jury found in favor of the Association.
Continue Reading Emotional Support Animals – If It’s Aggressive, It’s Not Reasonable

Facts

In May of 2016 the Association implemented a rule that allowed owners to bring furniture to the pool area for their use “but they must remove these items daily when they leave the pool area.”  Unit Owner claimed he needed a reasonable accommodation to leave his orthopedic lounge chair at the pool for medical reasons.  The Association initially allowed the chair to be left at the pool, but also requested further clarification of the request, specifically seeking: 1) a doctor’s recommendation that the chair was medically necessary for the owner’s physical disability, 2) confirmation that the chair he was using was in fact an orthopedic lounge chair, and 3) the weight of the chair.  The unit owner submitted three doctor letters:

  • Doctor 1 stated the Unit Owner’s “disability required the “use of an appropriate chair to accommodate his disability.”
  • Doctor 2 stated that he recommended that the Unit Owner “use an orthopedic lounge chair for his neck and back issues and also that he not lift ‘equipment or materials over 15 pounds.’”
  • Doctor 3 stated that the Unit Owner’s “anti-gravity chair helps his prostate condition.”

The Association took the position that the doctor letters did not clearly address the Unit Owner’s situation or the need for a certain type of chair, and then rescinded the initial accommodation.  The Association did state that it would reconsider the matter if the Unit Owner submitted all requested documents.
Continue Reading Residents are Not Owed Preferred Accommodations for Disability

Facts

Association Board adopted a resolution that unit owners in the Association who self-rented but did not join the rental pool would need to pay 20% of their rental income to the Association because the self-renters “did not contribute financially for the extra expense of their leasing activity or for the beneficial services provided by the rental pool.”  The resolution also 1) disallowed future self-rentals; and 2) grandfathered in the current self-renters.

The Suit

Claims

The Association sued the self-renters seeking a declaration that its resolution disallowing future self-rentals and imposing a rental fee was enforceable.  The self-renters counterclaimed alleging: a) breach of contract; b) injunctive relief; c) that the resolution was arbitrary and unenforceable; and d) that the Association was improperly allocating certain fees on the self-renters.
Continue Reading Fees for Self-Renters Who Don’t Enter the Rental Pool are Legal

The Garrett’s purchased their property in the HOA in 2001.  The CCR’s required an owner to obtain the approval of the architectural control committee (“ACC”) before doing any construction on the property.  The Garrett’s submitted plans to build a pool in their backyard, but the original plans were rejected by the ACC because the plans “were too vague and because professional plans are required for such a large project.”  The Garrett’s then resubmitted professional plans for the pool only which the ACC approved.  When the Garret’s built the pool, the pool equipment was on the common element and they built far more than just a pool.  The Board sent the Garrett’s a cease-and-desist letter, and after an executive session advised the Garrett’s to move the pool equipment within their property and return the common element to its original condition (they had lowered the height of a fence).  Although Mr. [Brett] Garrett attempted to engage a board member in a conversation, the board member advised that “he would not meet with the Garretts … [and that he] would discuss the matter only in the company of the board at a proper meeting.”  In reality, the Garret’s project “had blossomed into a complete backyard renovation with retaining walls, stairs, a drainage system, patio pavers, and planter beds,” none of which were part of the approved plan.
Continue Reading Building in HOA Common Area – MUCH More Costly Than Owner Thought (Because of Association Attorney Fees)

Two of the three lot owners in a subdivision had a dispute over a driveway easement and boat slips.  Lot 2 was contracted to be sold first and it included a driveway easement on Lot 1 and Slip A (the one with the boat lift).  When Lot 2 was deeded, however, Slip C was on the deed (no boat lift).  Lot 2 used Slip A, but when Lot 1 was later sold, that deed stated Slip A.  Despite what was on the deeds, after Lot 1 was sold its owner used Slip C, as he was apparently aware of the error on the Lot 2 deed.  Later a dispute broke out over whether the driveway easement was simply for ingress or egress or included the right of Lot 2 to park vehicles on the driveway.  This resulted in Lot 1 filing suit for the court to determine the extent of the driveway easement and who owned which boat slip.
Continue Reading Driveway Easement and Boat Slips – Expensive Fighting

Facts

Plaintiffs are property owners in what were originally three separate planned communities known as Mystic Lands.  Defendants are the developer/declarant and its sole shareholder, Shinitzky.  In October of 2006 the Plaintiff and his wife entered into a contract with declarant to purchase Lot 28 in Mystic Ridge.  The Property Information Sheet stated “the streets throughout Mystic Ridge are private and shall be maintained by the … Association.  The initial capital expense for the streets, including the asphalt, shall be bourne (sic) by the Developer.”  Shinitzky said this statement represented the intention of the Developer and that other similar representations meant “asphalt paved roads.”  However the deed described the lot by reference to the plat which stated “ALL INTERIOR ROADS ARE 14’ GRAVEL.”  Developer did pave some of the roads in Mystic Ridge as the development progressed, but in 2013, for the first time, Shinitzky stated in a Property Disclosure Statement that the roads “would be gravel.”
Continue Reading Developers/Declarants Breached Contract by Failing to Pave Roads

Facts

In 2016, a Master Association adopted seven amendments to its declaration.  The amendments addressed the Master Association’s authority to approve proposed uses of certain buildings, increased assessments on them, and imposed additional restrictions on those buildings’ tenants.  In response, the building’s prior owner (“Building Owner”) filed suit against the Master Association and eight individual directors and officers, seeking six forms of relief: (1) a declaratory judgment concerning the legality of the amendments; (2) damages for tortious interference with a business relationship; (3) damages for breach of fiduciary duty; (4) an accounting; (5) a temporary injunction; and (6) a permanent injunction.
Continue Reading Amendments to Condominium Documents MUST be Reasonable to be Valid

Facts

A unit owner stopped paying assessments.  The condominium association properly recorded and perfected a lien against the unit for those assessments.  Under the applicable Oregon statute, the condo association lien is prior to all other liens, except tax liens and a first mortgage or deed of trust.  An exception exists, such that the condominium association can gain priority over the first mortgage if (among other things) “the association gives the first lienholder formal notice of the unpaid assessments, and the lienholder ‘has not initiated judicial action to foreclose the mortgage * * * prior to the expiration of 90 days following the notice[.]’”  In this case, five days after the association recorded its lien, the bank filed a judicial foreclosure action against the unit, but did not name the association as party, and therefore the foreclosure suit would not have terminated the lien rights of the association.  To correct this issue, the bank filed an amended complaint naming the association as a party.  Five months later the trial court issued a dismissal of the claim against the association, without prejudice, for failure to prosecute.  Five months after that the association sent the bank notice of the unit owner’s default on assessments.  The bank took no action in the next 90 days to reinstate the dismissal or file a new action against the association.
Continue Reading Lien Priority Statutes and Why They Make Sense

Facts

The property was subject to a discriminatory restrictive covenant recorded in 1953 that stated: “No race or nationality other than the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race or nationality employed by an owner or tenant.”  In 2017 Plaintiffs obtained the property by deed referencing that the deed was subject to covenants.  Plaintiff then filed suit to “have the discriminatory restrictive covenant declared void and to ‘strike that same subsection from public record and eliminating it from the title of the property.’” 
Continue Reading Covenants that Discriminate on Race – ARE STILL A PROBLEM

Facts

Plaintiff, Brooktree Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (“Association”), filed suit “on behalf of itself and on behalf of its members” in May 2017 against the second developer, Brooktree Village, LLC (“Developer”).  Developer had acquired the remaining undeveloped portions of the development, other than the common areas.  “A construction company affiliated with Developer, Rivers Development, Inc. (“Builder”), completed construction of the development.  Developer sold all the newly constructed townhomes to individual homeowners.”  The Association sought damages for the cost of repairs.  The claims asserted by the Association were breach of implied warranty, negligence, and negligence per se.
Continue Reading Developers/Declarants are Liable for Implied Warranties to Association for Construction Defects