Tuesday, March 11, 2014


In a Georgia case earlier this year (Polo Golf and Country Club Homeowners’ Association, Inc. v. Rymer), a homeowner was given the green light to pursue the Association for the maintenance of a storm water system sitting on his property.

The covenants for the community require each individual homeowner to maintain and repair these storm drain systems.  To complicate the situation, years after the community was built the County created an ordinance requiring homeowner associations (HOAs) to take responsibility for all storm water infrastructures.

After the homeowner’s house suffered several floods, he sent demands to both the Association and the County to fix the drainage system.   What followed was a series of delays, and the Association sending mixed messages to the homeowner.  However, none of the communications informed the homeowner that he was responsible for handling the repairs.

Once lawyers got involved, the Association finally pointed to the Declaration requirement of the homeowner’s maintenance responsibilities.  Prior to this, the Association had actually informed the homeowner that he was not responsible.  On another occasion, the Association promised to make the repairs at no expense to the homeowner.  Since the government was also issuing citations at this point, the Association also challenged the County’s ability to force it to assume responsibility.

The court decided the County’s ordinance could not be enforced, since it was created after the development of the community, making the community exempt.  However, the Association had created so much confusion over the responsibilities that the court said the homeowner maintenance provision in the Declaration (in this instance) was also unenforceable.

The Association ended up footing the bill for all repairs, plus legal expenses. If the Board had been clear from the start about the homeowner’s responsibilities, all of this could have been avoided - along with all of the expenses and headaches that came along with it.

As a Board, be very cautious in taking on responsibilities without first reviewing the governing documents!

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