Court Awards Attorney Fees to… HOA or Homeowners?

This case involved a dispute between homeowners (“Owners”), their homeowners association and other property owners (collectively “Association”) over who had the responsibility for maintaining a private gravel and dirt road that ran through the parties’ subdivision.

Over a period of years, Owners, at their own expense, used asphalt grindings, oiling, and other dust control methods to abate the dust on the stretch of the private road that runs adjacent to their property in an effort to minimize the effects of the dust from the road on one of Owners’ asthma condition. During this period, disputes arose between Owners and Association over the payment of maintenance costs pertaining to the road that Association contended were created by Owners’ utilizing their own dust control methods and the repair of potholes.

In response to a demand by Association that Owners cease their own dust control measures pertaining to the road, Owners filed a suit for declaratory relief seeking a declaration from the court of the parties’ rights and responsibilities concerning the road and in particular, a determination of the parties’ rights to use and maintain the road.

The lower court found that Association’s CC&Rs were ambiguous with regard to the maintenance obligations relative to the road and Owners appealed said decision. The appellate court:

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