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#111-O, Turner v. Cherrywood Homeowners Association (June 29, 1992) (Panel: Stevens, Blumberg, Gordon)

The homeowner (HO) claimed that the increase in assessments was invalid due to the lack of proper notices from the homeowner association (HOA); he also claimed the HOA failed to keep proper minutes of its meetings and failed to conduct its meetings properly.

The evidence at the hearing showed that in 1990 the annual assessments per member of the HOA were $25.  On October 11, 1990, the HOA board voted to propose a budget of $14, 700 for 1991, which was presented to the HOA members at an annual meeting on October 24, 1990At this meeting the HOA board stated that there would be no increase in the assessments.  However, on December 13, 1990, the board voted to adopt a revised 1991 budget of $20, 552, which included a higher assessment of $35 per owner.  The HOA notified the members of the higher assessment on January 4, 1991.  The HOA Declaration stated that the board must fix the amount of the annual assessment at least 30 days before it went into effect and give each member at least 30 days' advance notice of the amount.  The Declaration further stated that increases in assessment must begin on January 1 of each year.  The HOA board did keep minutes, using a standard form, and that its procedures allowed it to amend the minutes of its prior meetings.  The HOA bylaws allowed for removal of any officer by the board with or without cause.

The hearing panel noted that although the board properly increased the assessments for 1991, it violated the Declaration by failing to adopt the new assessment at least 30 days before January 1, 1991; and it also violated the Declaration by failing to give at least 30 days' written notice of the new assessment.  However, the panel found that the board acted in good faith.  The panel refused to order the HOA to refund the increased assessments it had collected "as it would be fiscally burdensome, unduly expensive to the Community and not in the best interests of the Community or its members."  The panel found the board properly conducted its meetings and its minutes were adequate.

The panel refused to award attorney's fees to either party because neither party showed a pattern of behavior which would justify imposing an award of attorney fees.

The panel ordered the HOA to comply with its Declaration by fixing the amounts of the annual assessments at least 30 days before the beginning of its fiscal year and by giving at least 30 days notice of the assessment amount before it went into effect.