Hi-Country Estates v. Mountaintop
Hi-Country Estates v. Mountaintop, 2023 UT 8 (Petersen, J.)
Mountaintop refused to pay its HOA assessment, arguing that the Hi-County HOA establishing documents were void ab initio. The district court granted summary judgment in Hi-Country’s favor. Mountaintop appealed. On direct appeal, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed summary judgement, holding:
- The HOA’s governing documents are voidable, not absolutely void, and HOA members—including the complaining parties—have ratified the HOA’s authority by failing to challenge that authority at any time during property ownership, by paying charges and assessments, and by expressly admitting that authority in its petition.
- Practice Tip: The supreme court relied on its identical holding in WDIS II, 2022 UT 33, that this same HOA’s governing documents are voidable rather than void ab initio because the controlling principle was the same: where covenants have existed for decades, the reliance interests of other property owners in the HOA may be substantial.
- Mountaintop inadequately briefed its contention that the district court erred in its interpretation of the 1980 Covenants and the Community Association Act. It is on the hook for 100% of the assessment, even though it has a 50% share in the property.
- Practice Tip: In contesting a district court’s interpretation of terms, an appellant must explain why the district court’s interpretation is wrong with supporting interpretive or legal analysis—not just allege that it is wrong.