|JUDGE RULES: NO SPECIAL ASSESSMENT FOR PURCHASE OF CLUBHOUSE|
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published April 26, 2010
In a SUMMARY FINAL JUDGMENT Circuit Judge OLIN W. SHINHOLSER of the TENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR HIGHLANDS COUNTY, FLORIDA made it very clear that the board of a homeowners' association cannot just levy a special assessment to purchase a building -- in this case a clubhouse -- if the original deed restrictions don't allow levying special assessments for the purpose of purchasing a building.
In this judgment a very important sentence can be found -- a sentence HOA boards should read before involving their association in costly court battles (quote): "The Court also finds that Defendant, THE KNOLL-CENTURY HILL HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION, INC., cannot, by amending the bylaws or adopting new bylaws, override the provisions of the recorded covenant regarding when a special assessment can be imposed."
This ruling makes it very clear that association boards are bound by the provisions of the original governing documents. If it doesn't say so, it can't be done. PERIOD!
This is what the original Declarations of Restrictions and Covenants had to say about the purpose allowing to levy a special assessment (quote): "In addition to the annual assessments authorized hereby the HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION may levy a special assessment, for the purpose of defraying, in whole or in part, the cost of any construction or reconstruction, unexpected repair or replacement of any capital improvement upon the COMMON PROPERTIES which may be conveyed or assigned, including the necessary fixtures and personal property related thereto, provided that any such assessment shall have the assent of two-thirds of the votes of each class of MEMBERS."
Nothing else! Or do you read anything about purchasing a building -- or clubhouse -- that was not part of the original common property?
This dispute has raged in the community since Spring of 2008 -- pitting neighbors against neighbors. See: Neighbors Square Off Over Homeowner Association Vote. And it once again shows the downfall of the system. One side won, one side lost -- and they now hate each others' guts. One thing is sure: ALL OWNERS LOST!
Hopefully, the board members of THE KNOLL-CENTURY HILL HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION, INC. will finally realize that they were wrong -- and will not waste more money in legal fees by trying to appeal this Summary Judgment. Too much money has already been wasted. The board will have to dig deep to find the money to pay for all the legal costs that have accrued.
not create another bankrupt community association in