In this case, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine whether Edward Trusello (Trusello) was liable to Deep Meadows Civic Association (the Association), a home owner’s association, for home owner’s fees. In affirming the lower court, the Commonwealth Court held that Trusello neither had notice of any obligation to pay the Association nor received any benefit from the Association’s common area. Therefore, Trusello was not liable to the Association for any fees.
Trusello bought real property in Glen Mills in December 1998. The deed did not mention the existence of the Association or grant Trusello the right to use community space. Furthermore, the Declaration, which established the development in 1975, did not create nor mention a home owner’s association. Still, the Association alleged that Trusello was obligated and failed to pay fees from 1999 to 2011, which were assessed to maintain the common area. In November 2014, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Trusello, and the Association appealed.
The Commonwealth Court held that Trusello had absolutely no notice of the Association at the time he purchased his property in 1998 or that his property might be subject to a homeowner’s association thereafter. Information regarding the Association was not publicly accessible until 2012, when the Association first recorded its bylaws with the county Office of the Recorder of Deeds. Finally, Trusello’s property was located at the outer edge of the Association’s development and inaccessible from the development’s roads. Therefore, Trusello did not have actual or constructive notice that the property was subject to the Association’s fees.
The Association further alleged that Trusello should be required to pay for maintenance and insurance related to the common area because he was able to use it. However, there was nothing in Trusello’s deed that created any right to use the development’s common area or an obligation to pay the costs of maintaining it. Moreover, the Association provided no evidence that Trusello did or could have used the common area, and Trusello testified that there was no clear access from his property to the common area. As a result, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court’s determination that Trusello was not obligated to pay any fees to the Association.
Click here to read: Deep Meadows Civic Ass’n v. Trusello, No. 1258 C.D. 2015 (June 3, 2016).
Bob Turchick, Law Clerk