In a recently reported appellate court case, Clubhouse at Fairway Pines v. Fairway Pines Estates Owners, 214 P.3d 451 (Colo. App. 2008) the appellate court based on prior court holdings stated that joinder of an indispensable party can be raised for the first time on appeal. The appellate court pointed out a decision in the Colorado Supreme Court that held, “….a court of appeals should, on its own initiative, take steps to protect the absent party, [by ordering joinder of the unnamed party] who of course had no opportunity to plead his interest below [in the trial court]” (cite omitted) at p. 455. The Court of Appeals then reasoned, that if the Court could on its own initiative protect the interest of an absent party, then there should be no reason a party should be foreclosed from raising the same issue on appeal. 

Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 19, Joinder of Persons Needed for Just Adjudication, provides for the addition of parties who are necessary for a complete adjudication of all issues. This column does not answer the question of who is an indispensable party necessary for joinder in a lawsuit. The intent is to discuss the timing of when homeowners can be added as indispensable parties during pending litigation. The case cited below does talk about homeowners as indispensable parties, but it does not focus on the factors that make the owners indispensable to the litigation. In fact the law on whether homeowners are necessary parties in homeowner association litigation has the possibility of being radically revised as the Supreme Court has granted review of the case discussed below. 

Continue Reading When Can a Homeowner Be Joined as an Indispensable Party

The Colorado Court of Appeals, in the recent court decision of Abril Meadows Homeowner’s Association v. Castro, 211 P.3d 64 (Colo. App. 2009), ruled that an association whose declaration of covenants was unsigned did not have the right to enforce its covenants against its homeowners.

Continue Reading The Importance of Signed and Recorded Covenants

When the documents say how tall it is. And when it does not say how tall one story is, there is a very good chance that language in the governing document limiting a structure to one story will be unenforceable as a restrictive covenant.

In a recent Colorado Court of Appeals decision, Allen v Reed, 155 P.3rd 443 (Colo. App. 2006) the appellate court reversed the trial court’s granting a permanent injunction ordering the defendants to remove their A-frame addition to their home, which contained a bedroom loft suite. The lawsuit did not involve the Association, but was an action between two homeowners regarding an interpretation of the Association’s restrictions limiting structures to one story.   It was unclear whether the Association Board had the authority to enforce and there was no existing architectural control committee to enforce the restriction.

Continue Reading When is One Story One Story?

Those of us that work in the community association industry have been closely following the path of the New Jersey case of Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners Association. On July 26, 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced its decision, affirming the trial court and reversing the court of appeals, in determining that, under the New Jersey Constitution, the homeowners association’s rules restricting signage did not violate the right of free speech, that the constitutional right of free speech is not absolute, and citizens may waive or otherwise curtail their rights. A little background is helpful to understanding this case, and what its implications are to those of us in Colorado.

Continue Reading A Constitutional Right to Free Speech in Your Association? Not Yet

The good faith acts of directors of profit or non-profit corporations which are within the powers of the corporation and within the exercise of an honest business judgment are valid.  Rywalt v. Writer Corp, 526 P.2d 316, 317 (Colo. App. 1974).

It is educational to review the Rywalt case, above, to show the deference the courts will give to Board decisions. In this case, a group of homeowners sued the Association in an attempt to prevent the Association from entering into an agreement with the developer to build a second tennis court on the common area close to the plaintiffs’ homes. The cost of the tennis court would be borne by the developer. The plaintiffs argued, among other things, that the Association’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

Continue Reading Court Deference to Board Business Decisions

The Jefferson County District Court ruled last week that a condominium association can prohibit smoking in their four-unit building.   The Heritage Hills #1 Condominium Owners Association amended its bylaws to ban smoking after an owner complained about smoke seeping into her unit.  The District Court upheld the bylaw change stating that second hand smoke "constitutes a nuisance" similar to "extremely loud noise."  Click here to read an article on this ruling recently published in the Denver Post.