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Our HOA wants to charge every homeowner 1200
to add a well and sprinkler system for the
common grounds. This wasn’t part of our HOA
agreement nor disclosed at the time that I
bought my townhouse. These sprinklers wouldn’t
be for our own lawns but for the common areas.
Can we be forced to pay this?
Asked on July 27, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
It depends on what authority the HOA has to levy new fees, and whether they have exercised that authority properly and legally according to the governing documents (e.g. HOA agreement). To use an analogy: take Congress. Congress has passed many laws (and taxes) not even remotely contemplated by the founders; but so long as they act within the scope of their authority as granted by the documents establishing the U.S. and Congress (the Constitution) and follow the rules and procedures laid down for them in doing so (e.g. how votes are conducted, number of votes needed), such previously uncontemplated laws or taxes are legal.
Simlarly, if the HOA has the authority to levy new fees, at least for certain purposes, and this fee falls within the scope of the HOA agreement and was properly passed according to the procedures laid down in that agreement and any by-laws (as to notice, chance for opposition, quorum, how vote conducted, etc.) is legal and you can be required to pay. You need to look to the governing documents and then to the records of the meeting at which this was adopted to see if it is legal.
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