Kaman Cusimano Logo

Condo | HOA Lawyers

How to Turn $147 into $10,000 – the WRONG Way

Castilian Hills Homeowners Association v. Chaffins, (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 22, 2018)

The Facts

Homeowner bought home in 2004. In 2016, the homeowner failed to pay his $147 assessment.  The homeowners association (“HOA”) assessed a $20 late fee. The homeowner still did not pay, despite the normal language in the HOA governing documents about interest, the right to lien and reasonable attorney fees. After more notices, the HOA filed a lien for $525.52 and then a complaint against the homeowner seeking the $525, plus interest and attorney fees.   The homeowner argued to the court that the HOA was “required by statute to provide notice and an opportunity to be heard” prior to filing a foreclosable lien.

The Court

The trial court agreed with the HOA and awarded it the unpaid assessments, plus $9,540 of attorney fees, plus costs of $429. The homeowner appealed.  The appellate court held that the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&R’s”) controlled the property and allow for the recording of a lien on past due assessments. The court held that the lien did not flow from the statute, but from the CC&R’s, and once recorded, the homeowner was bound to their terms. The appellate court then affirmed the trial court’s decision and awarded the association reasonable attorney fees and costs on the appeal.


No matter how far you travel down the wrong path, stop and turn back. In this case, it seems as though pride got the better of the homeowner.  They apparently had numerous opportunities to pay the assessments, but instead they became creative.  It was an expensive creation.  This can work just as easily against an association.  Before going too far, look objectively at a situation and make sure your actions make sense, including economic sense.


Three bars icon gold

Recent blog Posts

Three bars icon gold

Partner Nicholas Meinert Presents at Northern Ohio CAI Chapter on the Corporate Transparency Act

On June 14, 2024, Partner Nicholas Meinert presented to the Northern Ohio Chapter of the ...
Read More →

Partners Dan Miske and Lydia Chartre presented at Wisconsin’s Chapter of CAI on reserves and lending

On May 23, 2024, Partners Dan Miske and Lydia Chartre presented a webinar for the ...
Read More →

Strengthening Community Associations: The Vital Role of a Comprehensive Assessment Recovery Policy and Procedure

Community associations are founded on principles of shared responsibility and collective maintenance. From maintaining common ...
Read More →

Partner Nick Meinert presented at OLCA’s Spring Conference

Partner Nicholas Meinert gave a presentation at the 2024 Ohio Lake Communities Association’s Spring Conference. ...
Read More →