Q: I live in a 20-year old, fully built subdivision that consists of six homes. We have never had a homeowners’ association but we do have a covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCR) document.
Twenty years ago we had modified the document to provide a road agreement between the owners. The road is private and we make the repairs to it. Over the years we all contributed our share of the repairs and majority rule dictated what work was done. This spring we decided we needed to repave the road and got estimates, and 5 out of the 6 homeowners voted to go with the lowest bid. The sixth homeowner refused to participate and wanted more information before any work was done.
The dissenting homeowner is now refusing to pay the balanced owed on the road. What legal recourse do we have to collect our funds from this homeowner? She is threatening to sue us if we put a lien on her house because the road was not completed to her liking.
A: Just because you don’t have homeowners’ association does not mean you don’t have rights. You need to go back to the CC&R. That document should have all you need to figure out where to go from here. If the CC&R was done right and the amendment everybody signed twenty years ago was done correctly, the document would provide for each owner to pay his or her share of expenses relating to the road.
The CC&R should also have provided for a mechanism to enforce the payment of any amount voted on by the owners. If the CC&R allowed for a majority vote rule to get things done, the owner that refuses to pay may have a problem and the CC&R may permit you to put a lien on that owner’s property for failing to pay the amount owed.
But you need to make sure you read over the CC&R and see what the document provides. If the document merely gave all the owners the right to use the road but there was no mention of repairs and who or how those repairs would be made or paid for, you may have a bigger problem. Without that language, you’ll only know what your state law provides in this special case by hiring an attorney to see where things stand.
If all of the owners that got together to bear the expense of the roar repairs get together, you all can find an attorney to help you out.
While you would hope that the dissenting owner would come up with the money, these hard economic times have put strains on everyone’s budgets. Some refuse to pay for what they should while others that can afford to pay will only pay if things are done their way.
It’s hard to tell what this owner is thinking and you’d hope that the five of you can work it out with her. If you’ve tried but have gotten nowhere, you might have to see what your legal rights are. Otherwise, the five of you will be sharing that neighbor’s cost of the road repairs.