Feather Trace Homeowners Assoc., Inc. v. Luster, No. 19A-SC-300, __ N.E.3d __ (Ind. Ct. App., Sept. 24, 2019).

Baker, J.

Donald Luster is a homeowner in the Feather Trace neighborhood. He refused to pay his annual assessment to the Feather Trace Homeowners Association (HOA) after the HOA stopped maintaining the public areas in the neighborhood. The HOA sued Luster for the unpaid assessment plus costs and attorney fees, and the trial court entered judgment in favor of Luster. The HOA appeals, arguing that the trial court erred as a matter of law. We agree. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the HOA and to calculate the amount owed by Luster.

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Here, there are no factual disputes. Luster and his wife purchased their home in August 2002, their purchase is subject to the Feather Trace covenants, among those covenants is a requirement that he pay annual assessment fees, and Luster refused to pay those fees in 2018. Moreover, the HOA does not deny Luster’s complaints about the maintenance of the neighborhood.

We have found no cases holding that abrogation of homeowners’ association dues and assessments is the appropriate remedy for an owner’s dissatisfaction with the way the HOA is performing or the conditions or quality of the neighborhood and its amenities. [Footnote omitted.] We certainly sympathize with Luster’s situation, and do not disagree with the trial court that the conditions of the neighborhood are dramatic and disheartening.

It is apparent, however, that the result reached by the trial court will make the underlying problems worse, as it will quickly empty the HOA’s coffers when Luster’s neighbors learn that they, too, need not pay their annual fees. If that were to occur, it would quickly become impossible for the HOA to correct the very serious problems in the neighborhood.

Instead, we note that Luster has other legal remedies aside from abrogation of his responsibility to pay the annual fees—and these remedies would actually have a chance of bettering the situation for the residents. For example, he can mount a campaign to oust the current board members; he can participate with board meetings or strive to become a board member to influence the HOA’s decision-making process; he can seek injunctive relief against the HOA; he can seek a receivership for the HOA; or he can sue board members for a breach of fiduciary duty.

The judgment is reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the HOA and to calculate the amount owed by Luster.

May, J., and Robb, J., concur.

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