By Deborah Goonan
Independent American Communities blog
Homeowners recently prevailed in a NV Supreme Court appeal on a case involving a service dog, the HOA clubhouse, and a rule change made by the Board.
In 2009, Deborah and Michael Sanzaro were fined for entry to the HOA Clubhouse with a dog that Deborah claimed to be a service animal.
However, the Board and Management of Ardiente HOA cited a rule prohibiting dogs in the Clubhouse.
The NV Supreme Court did not rule on the matter of disability accommodation. That decision was previously made in May 2014 at the District Court level. (see references below)
Instead, this case involved a claim by the homeowners, Deborah and Michael Sanzaro, that they were not provided proper notice of a rule change that prohibited dogs in the Clubhouse. Prior to the rule change, dogs were allowed in the HOA Clubhouse.
Ardiente HOA claimed to have amended the rule in 2006. But the Sanzaros had only been provided with the original 2005 version of the governing documents, which did not contain the 2006 amendment.
Ardiente HOA argued that CC&Rs, Rules and Regulations were posted on the HOA’s website, and that the website address was included in the RMI Management’s 2007 welcome packet to all homeowners. The HOA claimed this serve as constructive (official) notice of the updated rule.
But Sanzaros wrote on appeal that, even in 2009, the link on the webpage erroneously attached to the original 2005 documents, which did not include the 2006 “no dogs allowed” rule.
Counsel for Ardiente HOA could not dispute this argument.
The Nevada Supreme Court found that the HOA failed to notify members of the rule change prohibiting dogs in the Clubhouse. Therefore, the homeowners no longer have to pay the $500 fine, and do not have to pay the HOA’s legal costs of $17,000.
It is interesting that the homeowners represented themselves, all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Read the news release here:
References to current and previous cases:
NV Supreme Court, 2015 unpublished order, 2015
NV District Court on FHA claims, May 2014
NV Supreme Court, No. 61288 (Dec 2012)