Court Says Silence by HOA Board Not Deemed Approval of Pool House

This case involved a dispute between two homeowners (“Owners”) and their homeowners association (“Association”) over Owners’ right to construct a pool house that exceeded the size limitations imposed by Association’s governing documents. Association had the following provisions in its governing documents (Declaration) that were at issue: (i) Article V, Section 1, which instructs the Board to create an Architectural Committee, “for the purpose of ensuring” the general suitability of new improvements with respect to other construction in the subdivision; (ii) Section 5.3(a), which prohibits homeowners from constructing improvements until the construction plans and specifications have been improved in writing by the committee, but if the committee fails to approve or disapprove construction plans and specifications within 30 days of their submission, the committee’s approval will be deemed given, and an approval, whether by affirmative action or default, will be null and void if construction is not commenced within 180 days; and (iii) Section 7.16 (a), which provides that “outbuildings and detached structures shall not be permitted unless approval, in writing is obtained” from Association prior to the commencement of any construction. Because Association’s Board did not create an independent architectural committee, the Board itself acted as the committee.

In February, 2014, Owners requested permission from Association to construct a pool and pool house. The Board approved the proposed pool, but not the pool house because it exceeded the size limitation of 100 square feet imposed by the Declaration. Owners held off on construction of the pool and in July of 2015, they submitted another request for approval of the same pool and pool house. The Board again approved the pool but not the pool house due to the size. In September, 2015, Owners submitted a revised document to the Board with handwritten notations indicating changes to the pool and the position and dimensions of the proposed pool house. The revised proposal for the pool house still exceeded the size limitation of 100 square feet. The Board did not take affirmative action to approve or deny Owners’ revised plans.

Undeterred, Owners started construction in late October of 2015, and in December of 2015, Association filed suit against Owners seeking injunctive relief and recovery of attorney’s fees and costs. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Association for the requested injunctive relief after finding:

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