We’ll note four types of owner behavior that can range from the benign to the extreme.
We often advise clients that it’s not against the law to be a jerk, and the duties owed by HOAs to owners are no different regardless of whether the owner is a saint or a jerk.
Last year, North Carolina appellate courts ruled on two HOA cases where an owner’s conduct went beyond being a difficult personality. In each case, the conduct of the problematic owner as reported was extreme and included actions such as defacing community property with urine and feces, hurling profanity and making offensive gestures toward members of the community, threatening members of the board with physical injury and death, interfering with management of the property.
In each case the conduct caused injury to the board, a board member or the HOA. The HOAs in each case obtained court orders enjoining the owners from engaging in the harmful behavior. One of the court orders included provisions prohibiting the owner from contacting the board, the property managers or any vendors of the HOA.
One unwise owner who continued to act in violation of a court order was held in contempt of court and incarcerated. In each of these cases the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the court orders in favor of the HOAs.
While these decisions may be comforting to boards, it should be noted that each of these cases reported extreme and outrageous conduct by the owners that was historic, repetitive, and continued unchecked despite numerous requests to cease and desist.
The two cases mentioned above are Elizabeth Townes Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Jordan, 752 S.E.2d 256 (N.C. App. 2013), and Federal Point Yacht Club Association, Inc. v. Moore, No.COA13-681 (N.C. App. 2013).