Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McMullin v. Hauer

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

June 18, 2018

Crea J. McMullin and Martha E. McMullin, Petitioners
v.
John Hauer and Sena Hauer, individually and on behalf of the homeowners association of Two Rivers Estates; Lincoln Trust FBO John Hauer; Joseph Conrado; and Kelly Conrado. Respondents

          Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No. 13CA2283

          Attorney for Petitioners: David R. Medina Wheat Ridge, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondents John Hauer, Sena Hauer, and Lincoln Trust FBO John Hauer: Law Office of Leigh H. Singleton, LLC Leigh H. Singleton Denver, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondents Joseph Conrado and Kelly Conrado: Law Office of John A. Vanderbloemen, LLC John A. Vanderbloemen Steamboat Springs, Colorado

          OPINION

          MÁRQUEZ JUSTICE.

         ¶1 This land dispute concerns the ownership of seventeen acres of "common open space" in a purported common-interest community. Twenty years ago, Petitioners Crea and Martha McMullin ("the McMullins") acquired thirty acres of land in Rio Blanco County, intending to develop a rural subdivision. The McMullins recorded a final plat, which created seven lots along with seventeen acres of common open space, and entered into a subdivision agreement with the County. The plat identified the subdivision as "Two Rivers Estates."

         ¶2 For the next eight years, the McMullins were unable to sell any of the lots. During that time, the McMullins mortgaged six of the seven lots to finance the construction of a family lodge on one of the lots. They did not mortgage or encumber the common open space. When the McMullins became unable to pay the loans, the mortgagee foreclosed on Lots 2 and 3, which were then purchased by Respondents Joseph and Kelly Conrado ("the Conrados") and John and Sena Hauer ("the Hauers"), respectively. Still under financial strain, the McMullins also sold Lot 1 to the Hauers and Lots 4, 5, 6, and 7 to Lincoln Trust Company FBO John Hauer. ¶3 After acquiring six of the seven lots, the Hauers and Lincoln Trust Company filed suit to quiet title to their respective lots. The Hauers asserted that Two Rivers Estates was a common-interest community under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act ("CCIOA"), §§ 38-33.3-101 to 402, C.R.S. (2017), and that their lots included appurtenant rights in the common open space through an unincorporated homeowners' association created by the common-interest community.

         ¶4 After a bench trial, the trial court found that the recorded final plat, certain deeds, and the subdivision agreement established both an implied common-interest community and an unincorporated homeowners' association that held equitable title in the open space. The court further concluded that the Hauers, Lincoln Trust Company, and the Conrados were members of the unincorporated homeowners' association; that each lot owner had a duty to contribute 1/7th of the common expenses to the homeowners' association; and that the homeowners' association had power to levy assessments to collect those expenses. The McMullins appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed in a split, published decision, with the majority largely agreeing with the trial court's analysis. Hauer v. McMullin, 2015 COA 90, ¶ 1, __, P.3d__. We granted the McMullins' petition for a writ of certiorari, [1] and now reverse.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶5 In 1998, the McMullins acquired thirty acres of land overlooking the White River in Rio Blanco County. The McMullins intended to develop a rural subdivision and sell several lots, keeping one lot to build a family lodge. To that end, the McMullins submitted a final plat to the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County, which was approved and recorded in 2001. The final plat identified the property as Two Rivers Estates and divided the subdivision into seven lots, leaving about seventeen acres of "common open space" undivided. Relevant here, the recorded final plat included a map of the seventeen acres of common open space, and notices on the final plat provided that a "private access road, " domestic wells to service the subdivision, and "common ownership and maintenance" would be the responsibility of the "Home Owner's Association." The final plat also stated that "[t]he covenants that accompany the subdivision are filed in the office of the Rio Blanco County Clerk and Recorder in Book __Page__." No such covenants were filed, however.

         ¶6 On the same day the final plat was approved, the Board of County Commissioners and the McMullins also entered into a subdivision agreement obligating the McMullins to conform to the conditions and commitments as approved on the final plat:

The developer shall conform to all the conditions and commitments as proposed and approved on the preliminary plat and plan and as approved on the final plat . . . . This agreement shall be binding upon the parties, their heirs, executors, successors and assigns.

         ¶7 Over the next eight years, the McMullins failed to sell any of the property's seven lots. In the meantime, the McMullins mortgaged six of the seven lots (but not the common open space) in order to finance the construction of a family lodge on Lot 2. Lots 2 and 3 fell into foreclosure, and were then purchased by the Conrados and Hauers, respectively. Still under financial strain, the McMullins also sold Lot 1 to the Hauers and Lots 4, 5, 6, and 7 to Lincoln Trust Company.

         ¶8 In 2011, the Hauers and Lincoln Trust filed a complaint on behalf of themselves and "the homeowners' association of Two Rivers Estates" to quiet title to all rights in their property in Two Rivers Estates, including a claimed interest in the common open space through an unincorporated homeowners' association.

         ¶9 After a two-day bench trial, the court ruled in favor of the Hauers. Relying on Evergreen Highlands Association v. West, 73 P.3d 1 (Colo. 2003), the trial court held that "a common interest community was created by implication, " and that an unincorporated homeowners' association had been created with "the stated purpose to own and maintain the common property." The court concluded that the Hauers, Lincoln Trust, and the Conrados were members of this unincorporated homeowners' association, and that the association held equitable title to the common open space and private access road. The court further ruled that each lot owner had a duty to contribute 1/7th of the common expenses to the homeowners' association, and that the homeowners' association had power to levy assessments to collect those expenses. The McMullins appealed.

         ¶10 In a split, published decision, the court of appeals affirmed. Hauer, ¶ 1. The division majority held that the recorded final plat, the deeds, and the subdivision agreement constituted declarations sufficient under CCIOA to establish an "implied assessment authority in a common interest community" encompassing the seven lots at the common-interest space in the Two Rivers Estates subdivision. Id. at ¶ 18. Relying in part on Evergreen Highlands, the majority further concluded that the declarations also established an unincorporated homeowners' association with the power to levy assessments. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 19-20, 26. It rejected the McMullins' contention that their warranty deed established their ownership of the common-interest space and that neither the Hauers' nor the Conrados' deeds, nor anything else in the record, conveyed the common-interest space to either party. Instead, the majority agreed with the trial court that because the final plat stated "common ownership and maintenance" of subdivision property would ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.