Kalway v. Calabria Ranch HOA LLC arose from a dispute between a homeowner, Maarten Kalway, and his homeowners association, Calabria Ranch HOA LLC. Kalway is a case that affects all Arizona HOAs. The dispute was over amendments to the governing documents. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the Association did not provide proper notice to, or obtain consent from, Mr. Kalway. Ultimately, the Court ruled those provisions in the amendments that were not “reasonable and foreseeable” are invalid.
The conflict leading to the Kalway was extremely fact specific and unique to Calabria Ranch Estates. Calabria Ranch Estates consists of only six lots, of which Kalway owned two. The other four lot owners apparently conspired together to pass multiple amendments disproportionally affecting only Kalway’s much larger property. Kalway received neither notice nor an opportunity to vote for or against the amendments. Kalway was not aware that the other owners were making efforts to amend the declaration.
Kalway argued that the amendments were invalid because he did not receive notice, and that unanimous consent was required for new provisions. The Supreme Court agreed and invalidated some amendments because they contained unreasonable provisions. The Court held that the original declaration must give sufficient notice of the possibility of a future amendment, and that didn’t occur in this case. So, for example, if there are no leasing provisions in the original declaration, the Members can’t amend the Declaration to add short-term leasing provisions without unanimous consent since it wasn’t foreseeable in the original declaration.
It is essential for Associations desiring to amend their declaration to obtain a legal opinion that carefully evaluates the proposed amendment for reasonableness and foreseeability. If, in the attorney’s legal opinion, the amendment is reasonable and foreseeable, the regular amendment provisions in the declaration apply. Those provisions are typically a majority of the Members, 67 percent of the Members, or 75 percent of the Members.
If the proposed amendment is not “reasonable or foreseeable” then a 100 percent vote of the Membership is required to add the amendment. It is clear that this holding puts the Members and the Arizona HOA attorneys in a perilous position. Attorneys will give more conservative advice simply to be safe since the attorney wants to protect the Association from litigation. However, obtaining a 100 percent vote of the Membership in most Associations is impossible.
As a practical matter, a complete amendment and restatement of the declaration in all but the smallest Associations is impossible. Associations may be able to amend their Declaration using the amendment provisions in the Declaration if the amendment is narrowly tailored and refers to existing provisions in the Declaration.
It is more important than ever for HOAs to have experienced legal representation that can assist with review of the current governing documents and help carefully draft proposed amendments that will stand up to a challenge based on the ruling in Kalway v. Calabria Ranch HOA.
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Following, establishing, and enforcing HOA rules and the law can be tricky. There are many factors to take into account. From keeping tabs on recent legislation that impacts your HOA to complying with state and federal laws to enacting protocols and objective enforcement policies, there are a long list of reasons why your association should be working with experienced HOA attorneys. Halk, Oetinger, and Brown is a leader in HOA representation in Arizona because it is our only practice area. We only represent associations and planned communities in Arizona. Schedule an initial consultation to review your HOA representation needs on our contact us page.