Homeowners Required to Re-Paint Home

In Hawthorne Ridge Homeowners Assn v Wang, an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals opinion, the homeowners painted the exterior of their home without obtaining the prior written approval of the homeowners association as required by the bylaws.  The association filed suit.  The trial court granted summary disposition on two grounds:  that the color chosen by the homeowners was not an earth tone, and because the homeowners did not obtain prior approval.  The homeowners appealed.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in deciding the disputed issue of whether the color was an earth tone, but affirmed because the trial court correctly ruled that the homeowners failed to obtain permission in accordance with the bylaws. 

The homeowners also defended on the basis that, at the time they painted, the association had been automatically dissolved for failure to file annual reports.  However, the Association reinstated subsequent to the painting and prior to filing suit under a provision of the MI Nonprofit Corporation Act allowing nonprofit corporations to reinstate by filing the last five years of annual report and paying the fees.  If an association does so, MCL 450.2925(2) provides that a corporation that does so has the same rights as if dissolution had not taken place.

The homeowners challenged the reinstatement, arguing that the association’s actions were fraudulent because it reinstated a corporation that had no connection with the subdivision so as to give it retroactive legal status.  However, the court dismissed this argument because the homeowners provided no documentary support for this claim and cited no legal authority.

Finally, the homeowners argued that the trial court erred by awarding the association its costs and attorney fees.  However, the homeowners failed to file a second appeal from the separate order awarding fees and costs; the Court of Appeals held that it lacked jurisdiction to determine this issue.

© Steve Sowell 2017